In this morning's paper, we brought you the five most important things we learned about the 2012 Vikings from their three-week training camp stay in Mankato. But we learned a whole lot more than that. So now, without further delay, here are 10 more training camp revelations ...
1. Christian Ponder looks for Kyle Rudolph a lot. Rudolph has big hands, long arms and added confidence. Don’t be surprised if he leads the team in targets this season.
2. Jerome Simpson’s speed and athleticism should add a new dimension to the offense. Simpson’s absence, however, for the first three weeks of the regular season due to an NFL suspension will be noticeable.
3. Special teams coach Mike Priefer will love watching rookie Blair Walsh kick. The touchback barrage that’s coming on Vikings’ kickoffs will be a snooze-fest for TV audiences but incredibly fulfilling to Priefer. Walsh’s accuracy on field goal attempts will also be worth monitoring. He seems to have the mental makeup to be a long-term answer for the Vikings.
4. Behind Percy Harvin and Simpson, the receiving corps is thin, thin, thin on proven playmakers. How long will it take youngsters like Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton to emerge? Will the Vikings keep both Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu around? Will they keep either? Do guys like Kerry Taylor and Emmanuel Arceneaux have a chance at making the team?
5. Head coach Leslie Frazier is leading with added purpose and confidence in 2012 and certain that the blueprint he has in place will produce future success.
6. Part of Frazier’s plan, in conjunction with General Manager Rick Spielman, has been to bring in young players who care deeply about succeeding and are willing to invest extra time and energy to do so. Frazier and Spielman also don’t mind guys who have a nasty edge to them, which is why rookies Harrison Smith and Rhett Ellison have fast become favorites.
7. With all the attention paid to the Vikings’ young players, veteran defensive linemen Kevin Williams and Brian Robison have quietly positioned themselves to be major difference-makers again in 2012. Hard-working, ego-free and motivated, Williams and Robison will be great influences on the defense.
8. Antoine Winfield’s workload will be worth monitoring. To use Winfield extensively in the role the coaches want to – as a slot corner in nickel packages – someone else will have to emerge outside.
9. Twenty-nine-year-old Chris Carr will get the first opportunity to excel in that outside corner role opposite Chris Cook. But Carr might just be keeping the seat warm until rookie Josh Robinson makes his rise and is able to step in.
10. Injuries have already bit the Vikings in a major way. The potentially career-ending knee injuries to rookie receiver Greg Childs provided the most devastating camp setback. But John Carlson also missed the final 11 camp practices with a knee issue. He will need to soon show that he can play to justify the big investment the Vikings made.