As Rookie Mini Camp Arrives, Vikings Hype Train Leaves the Station

Young Vikings Receiver
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

How much can you tell from short, highly-manicured clips from practices where guys are running around in shorts and shirts?

The answer: not too much. Even still, plenty of fans will be encouraged to see their new favorite players putting in work. The Vikings hype train has left the station.

We think of Jordan Addison, of course, because he plays such a prominent position in the NFL and because of his 23rd overall draft slot. Take a look at a video the team released:

There is even a short video of Kevin O’Connell – who was drafted by the Patriots in 2008 to compete for a quarterback spot – tossing a strike to the receiver:

Bringing Addison into the purple fold isn’t going to change a plain-to-see reality: the team belongs to Justin Jefferson. The 23-year-old WR has distinguished himself as the clear-cut best player and most significant factor in whether games are won or lost. There’s a reason why he chased all-time receiving records in 2023 (coming up just a bit short) while going on to snag the Offensive Player of the Year Award.

Addison’s job will be to take the heat off the WR1. In essence, he’s batting 5th in the lineup. Intentionally walk our clean-up hitter? Sure, be our guest. The guy coming up to bat afterwards happens to be pretty good, as well.

Feb 9, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, US; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson poses for a photo after receiving the award for AP Offensive Player during the NFL Honors award show at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If footwork is your thing, then a brief couple clips of the DBs doing some work may be entertaining:

During the draft, Minnesota added CB Mekhi Blackmon in the 3rd and DB Jay Ward in the 4th. Both have a shot at playing time in 2023 given that there will be an open competition for spots at both corner and safety. Harrison Smith and Byron Murphy are assured of the starting lineup but nothing else has been written in stone.

Recently, we received the news that the Vikings agreed to terms with four of their six drafts picks. The Za’Darius Smith trade opens up the necessary cap room to get Addison and DeWayne McBride signed to their deals without any issue (even with Kwesi Adofo-Mensah holding onto some of the compensation for Z).

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants running back Matt Breida (31) runs with the ball against Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) during the third quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

In a lot of ways, the goal in rookie mini camp is simply to help get the players acclimated. Build relationships with the coaches and start layering on knowledge that will be necessary for success in September (and beyond). Coming out of the event with no injuries, increased morale, and smarter players is the goal.

Folks, remember this truth about football: you can’t win the Super Bowl in May but you can begin losing it. Failing to develop a strong culture where players all push toward the same goal can undermine the season before it even begins.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) is congratulated by head coach Kevin O’Connell after scoring a touchdown against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The team has published who is in attendance for the event. All of the now familiar names are there – the six draft picks and fifteen UDFAs – alongside plenty who are there on a tryout basis (alongside French pass rusher Junior Aho, a participant because of the NFL’s effort to give international players a shot).

Camaraderie, competition, and non-contact is what’s on tap at the moment. Oh, and just a little bit of social media hype for the newest additions to Minnesota’s roster. Just enjoy it for what is is.