Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Going camping: Vikings wide receivers/tight ends preview

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: July 18, 2014 - 10:09 AM

When analyzing each position for the Vikings, wide receiver is probably the deepest unit on the team featuring a blend of young, athletic talent and savvy veterans. Whoever starts at quarterback will benefit from the weapons at the position and a solid tight end in Kyle Rudolph in what should be an exciting offense.

We analyzed the running backs on Thursday, now let’s shift our focus over to the wide receivers and tight ends.

WHERE THINGS STAND: Cordarrelle Patterson doesn’t lack confidence, or ability. He’s already claiming that he will be a top five playmaker this season, and it could very well happen. Once the Vikings took off the training wheels last season and just let Patterson play, he scored six touchdowns (three receiving, three rushing) in the final month of the season. His routes have improved so far as he continues to develop into a well-rounded, and eventual No. 1, wide receiver. Greg Jennings will turn 31 in September and coming off his worst season since his rookie year given the amount of games played. Jennings, along with the rest of the unit, should see improvement in the passing offense under offensive coordinator Norv Turner and a healthier quarterback situation, but it’s a big year for Jennings to bounce back in the second season of a five-year deal with the Vikings.

CAMP BATTLE TO WATCH: The top two receivers are clear but the slot receiver is unknown at this point in a battle between Jarius Wright and Jerome Simpson. Wright, in his third season, received most of the first team reps at slot up to this point with Simpson, who re-signed to a one-year deal in the offseason, receiving second team reps. Will that change during training camp? Simpson is a deep threat receiver that can stretch the field with his speed. Wright showed last year he can do a little of just about everything in a limited role last year. Youth pitted against experience, but both should see a fair amount of snaps in Turner’s offense.

THE BURNING QUESTION: Will Rudolph make the jump this season? He could’ve taken that next step last year but a broken foot limited Rudolph to just eight games. All the signs point to the former Notre Dame tight end elevating his game though. Rudolph is in a contract season with a chance to prove his worth and tight ends have benefited from Turner’s offense with Browns tight end Jordan Cameron as the latest example last season. Rudolph’s foot is fully healed, and he hasn’t missed time up this point. If he can stay healthy, Rudolph should have a big year. And he’ll get paid in the offseason. 

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