It has been a week since Minnesota Vikings training camp began and many players are beginning to make their mark. With the quarterback battle between veteran Matt Cassel and rookie Teddy Bridgewater dominating the headlines, other players have quietly been having success without anybody taking notice.
Second-year wide receiver Adam Thielen has been arguably the biggest success story so far this year. Head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner have stated multiple times that Thielen may be the team’s most improved player since the end of the 2013 season. He has made a number of a highlight reel catches during training camp, to the point where linebacker Chad Greenway is sarcastically mocking him as a showoff.
2014 seventh-round draft pick Jabari Price has also been impressive. Price had been playing in the slot in place of Captain Munnerlyn while Munnerlyn was on the PUP list. Zimmer has praised Price’s toughness, competitiveness and feisty attitude. While Price is still far from being a roster-lock, he has shown early that he may be capable of outperforming his draft position sometime in the future.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has had a solid camp showing so far. His athleticism and quickness have been on display, batting down balls at the line and, at times, Floyd has had success maneuvering around the Vikings’ interior offensive linemen.
Rookie running back Jerick McKinnon has also been impressive to some degree. He has shown a natural ability to catch the ball in stride – reportedly far better than Adrian Peterson who has had some issues with dropped passes – and has scattered some strong rushing attempts as well.
Finally, rookie linebacker Anthony Barr has reportedly been exceptional through the first week of his first training camp. With Bridgewater dominating the headlines due to the position he plays and impressive summer, many have forgotten that Barr was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Barr has reportedly been moved around a number places, seeing first-team reps in both the base defense and as a pass rusher in sub packages. He has also taken reps lined up as a defensive end. While Zimmer has been tough on Barr so far this training camp, he clearly is doing something right if he is being used in a number of different ways and gaining first-team reps in the process.
With so many young players having success early in training camp, one must begin to wonder what this team may be capable of accomplishing this season.