Three Position Battles To Watch During Training Camp

Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings outside linebackers Patrick Jones II (91) and Janarius Robinson (95) during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

With a couple of training camp sessions under the team’s belt, we can take a better look at how good the players are right now, especially those who play in the trenches. It’s hard to judge offensive and defensive linemen when they’re not allowed to make contact with each other. With that in mind, I took a look at three positions in which the competition is wide open, taking into account the reports that are coming out of camp.

Right Guard – Jesse Davis, Chris Reed, Ed Ingram

Right guard is probably the only open spot in the offense. Kirk Cousins is obviously the starter at QB, the skill players are set, and the other four spots on the offensive line are also taken. This leaves these three players to compete for the starting job. Curiously enough, they’re all new to the team. Davis and Reed came from free agency and Ingram is a rookie out of LSU.

In the first days of practice, Jesse Davis took the snaps with the starting five (except Friday when he had a day off to rest his knee) and it seems like this trend will continue. Ingram is playing right guard with the backups, while Reed is on the left side. It’s only a guess, but the staff could be looking at Davis as the starter while Ingram gets used to the speed and Reed as a “swing guard.”

Corner – Patrick Peterson, Cam Dantzler, Andrew Booth Jr.

Harrison Smith will be one of the starting safeties with rookie Lewis Cine and second-year Cam Bynum competing to play alongside him. When in nickel packages, Chandon Sullivan is most likely going to be the first – and maybe only – option in the slot, but I don’t believe he’ll compete for one of the outside spots. Patrick Peterson has the CB1 job nearly locked in. It’s extremely unlikely he gets put on the bench.

However, the battle between Booth and Dantzler for CB2 is going to be an important one. Dantzler had an up-and-down start to his career. After receiving playing well as a rookie, Dantzler lost his job to Bashaud Breeland last year for much of the season. When playing, he had a shaky year, at times showing his potential but also having some really bad plays.

Andrew Booth is a great prospect. The Clemson corner does have a concerning injury history, missing some time in college. He also missed spring practices due to hernia surgery, but he came to training camp ready to play. They will have the next few weeks to present their case to the coaching staff, and I believe Kevin O’Connell and Ed Donatell will give each a fair chance to earn the starting role.

Backup EDGE – DJ Wonnum, Patrick Jones II, Janarius Robinson

Although this is the only fight not for a starting job, it doesn’t mean it’s a less important one. In the last few years, the NFL learned how important it is to have a strong defensive line rotation, especially with the 2017 Eagles. Also, the fanbase has reasons to be concerned about the starting duo’s health. Danielle Hunter started only 7 out of the last 33 games, with neck and pec injuries, while newly-signed Za’Darius Smith had a back injury, playing in one game last season.

The three highlighted players look like the favorites to be the primary backup, with the edge going to Wonnum at the moment. As I said, it’s hard to evaluate linemen when the pads are still off, so we have to rely on what we know about them. Wonnum isn’t someone that had a bunch of plays or beat his blocker often, but at the end of the day, he led the team in sacks in 2021. Jones and Robinson are second-year players that didn’t see much of the field as rookies. Can one become a strong EDGE3 so that the top two can take snaps off?

This is a position I’ll be watching.