Football is back and the Vikings held their second day of training camp on a hazy Thursday afternoon. With it only being day two of camp it was a lighter practice without pads, but I still left with a few different takeaways.
There are a lot of new faces out at Twin Cities Orthopedic Performance Center this year, so it’s worth checking out some of the new players if you get the chance.
Here are a few things that stood out to me during today’s practice.
Kirk Cousins had a good day and showed off his new ‘swag’
If there’s one player on the Vikings roster that can start an argument between Vikings fans, Kirk Cousins is that guy. Despite putting up great stats over his first three years in Minnesota, the fanbase is still divided on whether or not he was worth the big contract he signed in 2018.
One thing that I’ve said regularly is that Cousins needs to play with more fire. It’s obvious that he has the talent to be a top-ten quarterback in the league, but that doesn’t always show on the field.
On Thursday afternoon the arm talent of the Vikings’ quarterback was on display. He connected on two deep balls within a matter of minutes.
The throws were pretty, but that isn’t what had me interested sitting in the bleachers taking it all in. What popped in my mind was something that Irv Smith Jr. said on an appearance with Good Morning Football just a couple weeks ago.
“He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder,” Smith Jr. said during the interview. “He’s got a lot more swagger this year, for sure, and I’m very excited. It’s going to be fun.”
This seems to be a talking point every year, but this year something seems different. After each of his connections with Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn neither of the receivers were the ones rubbing it in to the defense.
Instead, it was Cousins who was going insane giving his lineman high fives and showing emotion after the two big connections. This is something I’ve said in articles and on my podcasts, but if Cousins can start playing a little more loose, I truly believe he’s capable of taking this team deep into the playoffs.
Training camp is only two days in so this can be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s a positive sign heading into August.
Danielle Hunter looks healthy
A critical aspect of the outlook of the 2021 season comes down to the health of star pass rusher Danielle Hunter. After undergoing season ending neck surgery in 2020, Hunter looked ready to go today.
It’s going to be more fun watching Hunter get the pads on next week, but it’s a great sign for the defense that he was out there and frequently making his presence felt in the backfield.
Hunter had a good practice yesterday according to Mike Zimmer and I saw him getting pressure on Cousins several times today. The pads weren’t on, but this is a step in the right direction after the Vikings didn’t get to see one of their most important players on the field in 2020.
No kicking miscues?
Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the kicking game after the second day of practice, but Greg Joseph looked solid.
If the place-kicking unit can be at least average in 2021, I think the majority of Vikings fans would take it after watching Dan Bailey struggle last season.
The third linebacker spot is open for the taking
Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr will be on the field for most defensive snaps this season barring any injuries. Whoever lines up next to them in base formations seems to be wide open and open for the taking between three players.
Cameron Smith, Nick Vigil and rookie Chazz Surratt all rotated in with the ones today and it doesn’t seem like there’s a clear-cut favorite.
We discussed this position battle on the State of Purple Podcast this week, so make sure to listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts if you want to hear who I think wins the job ahead of Week 1 in Cincinnati.
A lot can change between now and the first game, but these are just a few of the things that caught my eyes at my first training camp practice in two years.
There’s only been two practices thus far, but KFAN.com will continue to have updates as camp goes on. Make sure to tune into KFAN 100.3 during the week to hear all things Vikings as well.