Position Battles to Keep in Mind as the Vikings Pad-Up Today
The Minnesota Vikings have their first training camp practice in pads this afternoon; a process that should reveal even more about this roster than what we’ve already seen. These practices are usually more intense in nature, and we should see some leaders in certain position battles start to emerge. Here are four Vikings position battles to keep an eye on as the pads come out today.
So far, the Vikings cornerback battle between Andrew Booth and Cam Dantzler has been the talk of the town. The duo has performed extremely well as they compete for a starting position opposite of Patrick Peterson in the secondary. They’ve each made terrific plays while playing with the ones. Booth intercepted a pass intended for Justin Jefferson on the opening day of practice while Dantzler has made Adam Thielen work for absolutely everything when they’ve been matched up against each other.
As practices start to intensify, it’ll be very interesting to see if Dantzler gets an edge due to his NFL experience, or if Booth can continue to hang with him. Perhaps the two of them can even supplant Peterson and relegate him to a CB3 role; something that could benefit the 32-year-old cornerback in the long run.
Kellen Mond had a really rough go of things in 2021. He missed large chunks of training camp because of a positive Covid test, and that caused a stunted development ahead of the first preseason game. Mond progressively got better throughout the preseason, but largely underwhelmed, and that caused him to be the Vikings QB3 for much of the year behind Sean Mannion. He played just three snaps of regular season ball in the “Kirk Cousins Covid game” against the Green Bay Packers and immediately afterwards was bashed by Mike Zimmer to the media.
2022 is a turnaround year for the second year QB under new head coach Kevin O’Connell. There are still issues with his passing, but overall, things seem much more positive this time around compared to last year. As for Mannion, what you see is what you get. There is very little mystery behind what the career backup will bring to the table. Mond needs to win the job this year, and today can be the first major step towards doing so.
Jesse Davis appears to be the early favorite to win the right guard job after spending the first day of practice with the ones. However, since then he has suffered a right knee injury that caused him to miss a day of practice. In that practice, it was Chris Reed that took the snaps with the ones. Also in the mix is rookie Ed Ingram, and then Wyatt Davis seems to have nearly completely disappeared from this topic.
Thus far, the veterans seem to have a clear advantage over Ingram because of their experience and ability to quickly pick up the new scheme. With the pads coming out today, I would expect this advantage to become even more apparent at the Vikings training camp. Perhaps Ingram surprises us, but I would be quite stunned if it wasn’t Davis starting Week 1 against the Packers.
Obviously, Dalvin Cook has the RB1 job locked up in Minnesota for the foreseeable future. That said, there are a number of intriguing players behind him that are battling for roster spots. Alexander Mattison is a very talented back as well, but Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler each provide an added element of being threats in the passing game.
Nwangwu made his name as the star kick returner for the Vikings during the 2021 season, so his roster spot has never truly been in question. That said, Chandler has lived up to the hype after a very productive final collegiate season with UNC. I’d say there’s a very good chance that the Vikings keep four running backs on this roster, and we may even see Chandler get a role in the offense very early on in the season.
Overall, we are obviously very early on in the process of whittling the roster down to the final 53. The emergence of pads in practice is just one of the many major milestones we have to reach over the next month, but it can’t be understated that today is a very big day of practice for each player in their pursuit of a roster spot. We’ll see who emerges from the pack this afternoon when the players hit the field for another day of Vikings training camp.