VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData, Arif Hasan of Vikings Territory, Aj Mansour, who hosts Minnesota Vikings Overtime on KFAN, and Joe Oberle a long-time Minnesota based writer. The VikesCentric crew crunches numbers, watches video and isn't shy about saying what's on their minds.

VikesCentric: Training Camp checklist

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: July 24, 2013 - 9:29 AM

Gage Hall is gone so it just won't feel quite the same, but that isn't stopping the Minnesota Vikings from making their annual trek down 169 to Mankato for the 48th consecutive year. This of course signals football season is beginning again… even though it never really ends. And that of course means fans and media types will be nit-picking every practice, every depth chart change and every post-practice quote for the next several weeks.

 
In this Twitter world in which we live even things as mundane as a training camp drill get hyper-analyzed, and leading the pack of breathless over-coverage for the next several weeks will be the Vikes' quarterback situation. It's understandable to a certain extent in this quarterback-driven league, especially since the Vikings have had less-than-stellar production from the position for the last three seasons. I'm not saying I'm going to ignore the practice field exploits of Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel, but in all honesty what they do in Mankato will be pretty meaningless.
 
Ponder is the starter, Cassel the backup. That depth chart isn't going to change unless there's an injury. Even if Ponder goes completely off the rails during preseason games, I can't envision any scenario in which he doesn't remain the starter. Frankly, I suspect he'll be the starter all season. This is his year to prove it. If not, a change might be afoot next offseason. In my mind, however, Cassel was brought in to give the team a veteran quarterback that coach Frazier can turn to with some level of genuine confidence should Ponder's arm turn black and blue again. It should also help to have another set of experienced quarterback eyes on the sideline and in meetings during the week.
 
While Ponder and Cassel grab headlines, I'll be looking beyond the quarterback marquee at some Mankato storylines that should actually matter more.
 
1. Replacing Antoine Winfield
To me this is the No. 1 story for the Vikings this preseason. The departure of Percy Harvin garnered more attention, but replacing him with the combo platter of Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson blunts the loss. As things stand today, the Vikings plan to replace Winfield – in my mind the best slot corner in the NFL last season – with second-year man Josh Robinson, who has never played the position before. If that doesn't give Vikings fans a smidge of heartburn, I'm not sure what will. Robinson could very well prove to be up to the job of (sort of) filling Winfield's shoes. There's no obvious Plan B.
 
2. Flash Patterson
Speaking of Patterson, I sure hope he lives up to his self-proclaimed "Flash" nickname this season because I'm not a fan of giving oneself a nickname. If Coradarrelle can (ahem) flash his enormous talent right away, he might not be stuck returning kicks and caddying for Jerome Simpson for long. There's no question he has unique, game-changing ability. If he spends his time learning under Jennings' wing and doing all the right things, he could be a huge asset to the Vikings offense. It all starts in Mankato.
 
3. Are the Vikings settled at cornerback?
This just in: quality cornerback play is fairly important in today's NFL. It might rank second in importance behind quarterback play because, you know, I hear teams like to pass a lot these days or something. Chris Cook and rookie Xavier Rhodes are penciled in as your Vikings starting corners as Mankato workouts get underway. Tons of upside there, but it's a far-from-proven situation, especially considering point No. 1 above.
 
4. Henderson or Bishop at the Mike?
I'm forecasting Erin Henderson winds up the starter at middle linebacker with Desmond Bishop starting on the weak side. However, both players are able to play both positions so this will truly be a training camp battle. It may ultimately be a moot point, as I suspect both will be on the field a lot. It could very well come down to who does a better job in pass coverage.
 
5. How is John Sullivan's knee?
It wasn't too many years ago that microfracture knee surgery was known to end careers. Okay, so maybe that was back in the 1990s when the procedure was relatively new. That's usually not the case anymore, but it's always a little worrisome when one of your best players has the surgery. John Sullivan is the most important member of what has developed into a very good offensive line -- and was also the biggest Pro Bowl snub last season. He underwent microfracture surgery back in February yet he is apparently ready to go for training camp. The Helga-horned faithful have their fingers crossed. It would be nice to scratch this one off the list as any kind of storyline.
 
6. Joe Webb's transition to wide receiver
A lot of folks are probably bored with the Joe Webb saga, but the Vikings need wide receivers like the Twins need starting pitching. If Webb can successfully make the transition from under center to out wide, it will be a nice bonus. Word on the street is that his ability to catch the ball is improving. We'll see if that continues in Mankato and, more importantly, during preseason games.
 
Other storylines to keep an eye on:
Will Brandon Fusco hold down the job at right guard?
 
Will Jeff Locke make Vikings fans forget Chris Kluwe (at least on the field)?
 
Are the Vikings going to get anything out of John Carlson?
 
What kind of drink specials will they be offering at Boomtown (asking for a friend)?
 
The return of wide receiver Greg Childs after tearing both patellar tendons last August – it would be a great story if he makes the team.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston 2 Top 4th Inning
Baltimore 2
Milwaukee 0 Top 4th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Washington 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Miami 1
NY Mets 3 Top 4th Inning
Atlanta 0
Chicago WSox 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Tampa Bay 2
Cleveland 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Minnesota 0
Seattle 1 Top 4th Inning
Houston 5
Cincinnati 1 Top 4th Inning
St. Louis 5
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
Utah 26 Delayed 7:51
Michigan 10
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Texas State 28 3rd Qtr 5:50
Illinois 25
Georgia State 14 3rd Qtr 7:01
Washington 7
Ball State 0 Delayed 9:30
Toledo 6
Appalachian St 7 2nd Qtr 4:45
Southern Miss 14
Miss State 17 2nd Qtr 5:20
(8) LSU 0
Northern Ill 7 2nd Qtr 3:29
Arkansas 21
Middle Tennessee 7 2nd Qtr 4:51
Memphis 19
Utah State 7 2nd Qtr 6:31
Arkansas State 0
Miami-Ohio 14 2nd Qtr 6:30
Cincinnati 10
Idaho 0 2nd Qtr 6:20
Ohio U 17
(14) So Carolina 0 2nd Qtr 15:00
Vanderbilt 14
(4) Oklahoma 3 1st Qtr 0:07
West Virginia 7
Ga Southern 7 2nd Qtr 13:02
South Alabama 0
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
UNLV 7 1st Qtr 10:08
Houston 0
Miami-Florida 7 1st Qtr 10:14
(24) Nebraska 0
New Mexico 0 1st Qtr 8:44
New Mexico St 0
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 2nd Half 44:55
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 1st Half 15:00
Columbus 0
San Jose 0 1st Half 5:00
Montreal 0
Seattle 0 2nd Half
Red Bull New York 1
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 1 4:30
Hamilton 3
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT