Photo - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - Minnesota Vikings Training Camp is in the books and we've learned a decent amount about this Purple squad. Having spent a majority of the past month on the sidelines in Mankato, below I've highlighted the THREE WORST things from Training Camp 2013 along with the THREE BEST things observed from this year's camp.
THREE WORST THINGS FROM TRAINING CAMP:
(1) Joe Webb seems to be getting lost in the shuffle.
This worst listing may be more personal than impactful for the Vikings as a team as no matter whether Joe makes the team or not, his impact on the football field will be minimal. That said, I have joined the cavalcade of others who are rooting for a guy like Joe to make the cut. He's the consummate professional, the teammate that everybody wants in their locker room, but he just may not fit in on this Minnesota Vikings team. The addition of Matt Cassel pushed him to wide receiver where he made some improvements and looked natural at the beginning of camp. Since then, Joe has kind of been lost in the shuffle and his counterpart Stephen Burton has made a name for himself and likely leapfrogged Joe on the depth chart. I've been pulling for Joe to make this team because of the man that he is, unfortunately the football player that he is may not be the football player requisite of making the Vikings 53-man roster.
(2) My comfort level with the cornerbacks is a 3 on a scale from 1-10.
From top to bottom the Minnesota Vikings cornerback unit has not done much to convince me that they are prepared to survive in a division that is filled with good quarterbacks and big physical receivers. Let's start at the "top" with four-year veteran Chris Cook. To date Chris Cook has started in 18 career games and has only 11 passes defended and not a single interception to his name. Cook's injury concerns and off-the-field issues are what's he most known for, a recipe that does not leave a good feeling for most fans of the team. Dropping down to the man who is filling in at #2 CB right now, Josh Robinson is a second-year player who had an up and down camp. Robinson's rookie crusade saw him tally two interceptions with three passes defended and having the title of "fastest player in the NFL" is bad either. Still Robinson's lack of inexperience doesn't do much to convince me that he is ready to step in and be a starter for this team. Then we come to rookie CB Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes was touted as the biggest, most physical cornerback in this year's draft but injuries have cause him to miss parts of camp and the team's first preseason game. All-in-all, none of these cornerbacks have been overly impressive through camp, but they should all have at least one quarter of playing time to put on tape tomorrow night in Buffalo. Needless to say, they've left a lot to be desired throughout the rest of the preseason.
(3) We didn't even get to see Greg Childs this year.
As one of the few who developed a big opinion on Greg Childs before his injury last year, I was hoping that this year would have spelled redemption for Childs and his battle to make an impact in the NFL. Last year he tore the patellar tendons in both of his knees, but I held on. This year he started Training Camp on the Preseason PUP List, but I held on. Now camp has ended and we haven't seen him play a single snap of real football, can I still hold on? I'm not privy to the information that would tell me exactly how close, or how far away, Childs is to returning to the field but he has done nothing more than workout individually on field three to date. I still think that the Vikings think they have something in Childs, who at this point will likely start the regular season on the PUP List. They wouldn't want to risk sending him through waivers and onto the practice squad just yet. They may wait until the PUP list clears after week six and try then, but in all seriousness, it was disappointing for me that Childs is still stuck on the sidelines during team practices.
THREE BEST THINGS FROM TRAINING CAMP:
(1) No major injuries throughout most of camp.
It wasn't until the final practice of Training Camp when Jerome Felton headed off to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy, outside of that freak situation, the Vikings are walking away from Training Camp largely unscathed. We've seen what seems to be a larger than normal number of serious injuries around the league so far this preseason so to hear that the Vikings came back from Mankato with nothing more than a few sprains, strains and scrapes is amazing news.
(2) On the last days of camp, the offense was "winning".
It's a yearly occurrence that at the beginning of Training Camp, the defense seemingly has the upper hand on the field. Defensive units are directed to get into formation and for the most part, from there it's all reactionary and instinctual. On the offensive side of the ball, players need to worry about route running, defense reading, blocking schemes and all of them need to be clicking at the same time. Needless to say, that takes a little more work and a little more time to get everything on the same page. The good signs that I observed during this final week in camp, was that the offense seemed to be clicking on all cylinders. Christian Ponder was hitting receivers left and right at yesterday's final practice and found the end zone on a pretty regular basis. Matt Cassel and the second-team offense followed suit and didn't drop a beat. His favorite target was obvious, rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. At the end of the day, the offense walked away from camp Thursday morning with a quiet confidence with what they had been able to accomplish. This is exactly what you hope to see at this point in the race.
(3) This year's rookie class seems to be falling in line with the previous 2 draft classes from Rick Spielman.
When you hear the names Harrison Smith, Matt Kalil, Blair Walsh and Kyle Rudolph you realize that these four players are some of the most impactful players on this year's Vikings roster. Hopefully you also remember that those players in addition to Josh Robinson, Christian Ponder and others were drafted by General Manager Rick Spielman over the past two seasons. Not too bad of a haul! Let's all keep in mind that it's only been three weeks of training camp and one preseason game, but this year's draft class, in particular the first rounders, seem to be falling right in line with the previous good Spielman draft picks. Cordarrelle Patterson was the headliner in preseason game number one with his 50-yard kick return and four catches for 54 yards. Sharrif Floyd showed glimpses of brilliance before going down in the second quarter with a knee injury. His blocked pass and tackle for loss were plays that you don't typically see from rookies. Xavier Rhodes may be the X-Factor for this team (no pun intended). He didn't play in the first preseason game but has looked good in camp. He's not afraid to hit and his physicality continuously impresses the coaches. Spielman may very well be on to something with yet another stellar draft class.
For more analysis from the final days of Vikings Training Camp, check out the final episode of "Vikings Training Camp Review" below...
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN