What we've learned about defense, special teams

  • Updated: August 5, 2012 - 11:06 PM

Staff writers Mark Craig and Dan Wiederer blog at Access Vikings on startribune.com. Here is Mark's latest report:

MANKATO - After the first full week of training camp this is what we've learned about defense and special teams:

Defensive line

What we've learned: The team, as usual the past few years, has some impressive depth. That includes some classic edge rushers such as D'Aundre Reed showing that they can also rush from the tackle position.

What needs to happen: Letroy Guion needs some preseason action to prove he can handle the move from under tackle to nose tackle at a relatively light 303 pounds. Can he make up for it with quickness? Said Jared Allen: "Letroy has feet like no other."

Linebackers

What we've learned: Griffen is wildly talented and can play multiple defensive positions as well as stand out on special teams. However, the switch to linebacker won't be successful after just a week or two of focusing on the position. He's flashed in camp, but he's also been inconsistent while running with the third team.

What needs to happen: Like Guion, middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley just needs some actual game experience to show that he's ready to assume former Viking E.J. Henderson's old position. For what it's worth, Brinkley has not shown signs of the injuries that have plagued him for most of the past year. He missed all of last season because of hip surgery and then missed a lot of OTA and minicamp time because of a combination of hip and groin issues.

Defensive backs

What we've learned: These aren't your 2011 Vikings. This outfit looks NFL-worthy and then some so far. Chris Carr has looked like a solid third corner, if not a capable No. 2 if the Vikings want to limit 35-year-old Antoine Winfield to nickel back.

What needs to happen: Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said the team is likely to keep either five or six corners. If veteran Zack Bowman makes the team as the fifth corner, as expected, the pressure mounts on the lower-tier guys such as Brandon Burton, Marcus Sherels and Reggie Jones.

Special teams

What we've learned: As advertised, rookie kicker Blair Walsh has a giant leg. He's been booming kickoffs out of the end zone.

What needs to happen: Walsh needs to face the pressure of a field goal attempt that means more than ending a training camp practice. So far, he's handled that minimal pressure well.

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