Viking Camp Impressions with Wood
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Aug 1, 2013 at 9:26 pm
Thursday was our first day in Mankato, and the Vikings did not disappoint. Big plays, big cheers and hot temps were the headlines, but I was able to focus on some certain position groups and take some notes.
- The defensive line is a tight-knit group that pushes one another. It was early and hot, and it would have been easy for players to lolly gag through drills, but the intensity level with the defensive line was high. When undrafted free agent Anthony McCloud loafed his way through a drill, he was told by his line mates to do the drill again, and do it right. For a defensive line that will be asked to be the main part of this defense, that accountability will go a long way.
- Cordarrelle Patterson looks the part. Still finding his way when it comes to running patterns, but when the ball is in his hands, he is electric. His change of direction skills are unfair with his size. The coaching staff will need to find ways to get the ball in his hands.
- Speaking of Patterson's hands, he does a wonderful job of catching the ball away from his body. That isn't a minor point, it has killed many a career before. Just ask Troy Williamson.
- I know some in the media have been praising Quarterback Christian Ponder, but he was not very good today. Throws too high, too strong and behind the wideouts. Seems to me as if he was pressing today. I will be watching him very carefully tomorrow to see if he can settle the nerves. Although his arm is plenty strong.
- Either the Vikings really struggle covering Tight Ends, or Kyle Rudolph is becoming a complete mismatch. Luckily for the Vikings, I think it is more Rudolph being great, than the other. He has great size and has really improved his route running. Not to mention his hands have never been a problem. With Harvin gone and speed on the outside in Patterson, Rudolph could be a huge factor in the Vikes passing game.
- Didn't get to watch the defensive backs much today, but when I did, Harrison Smith was in charge. He has surprised me (listeners of the Benchwarmers on Saturday's from 11am-1pm will know) with his range and his willingness to mix it up in the run game. Maybe even more importantly he is the general in the backfield. With a rookie Cornerback in Xavier Rhodes, he was making sure everyone was lining up properly. He's a bonafide stud.
- Greg Jennings will be a savior for Ponder. His wiggle in space is really under-rated. Had some great moves today. Will be a match-up nightmare in the slot (where the Packers liked to use him). Of course, that means Patterson and Jerome Simpson will have to be productive on the outside. If not, I think Jarius Wright will flourish in the slot, possibly pushing Jennings to the outside. (Not saying he is better than Jennings, but a Chris Jennings duo with Wright is better than one with Simpson) That is not a bad problem to have if you are the Vikings. Love the Vikings wideout depth.
- The Vikings are doing some different things with their formations. Saw a few Pistol formations which is a smart move. The Pistol allows a QB to get into his drops faster and not tip the offense's hand on run direction. It is a formation that has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. Just because other teams use it with "running Quarterbacks" doesn't mean that this is the way the Vikes will.
- Everson Griffen is a stud. It may not be popular, but if I had to pick one Vikings defensive lineman to keep for the future, it would be him. Size, quickness and seems to listen to the coaching staff. Could be a superstar. Got the better of Offensive Tackle Phil Loadholt a time or two. Loadholt looks like he is playing heavy.
- No one got hurt. Erin Henderson got banged up on one play but returned a few minutes later. If you end everyday with everyone healthy, you take that to the bank.
Looking forward to Friday, follow along on KNSISports twitter. We will be posting throughout the day.
Last, but certainly not least, Don Lyons caught up with the father of Everson Griffen, Vikings defensive end.
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