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

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Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
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Portland
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Northern Ky
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Albany
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Alcorn State
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Illinois State
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Mount St Marys
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Navy
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Princeton
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Robert Morris
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St Bonaventure
Colgate 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Kansas 6:00 PM
Temple
Mercer 6:00 PM
Tennessee
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Va Military 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
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Western Mich
New Orleans 6:05 PM
Indiana
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Connecticut
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St Johns
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West Virginia
Southern U 7:00 PM
Baylor
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Chattanooga
Char Southern 7:00 PM
Colorado State
North Florida 7:00 PM
Iowa
NC Central 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Rice 7:00 PM
Lamar
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McNeese State
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Michigan
Furman 7:00 PM
Minnesota
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Weber State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
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TCU
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
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Tulsa
Penn 7:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Chicago State 7:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Simpson 7:05 PM
Drake
Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
UMKC
Murray State 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Oral Roberts 7:05 PM
Missouri State
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Eastern Wash
Walla Walla 8:05 PM
Portland State
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Marshall 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:30 PM
Houston
UC Riverside 10:00 PM
San Diego St
Tulane 10:00 PM
Washington
Loyola Marymount 10:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Hawaii
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
UMass Lowell 14 1st Half 10:18
Holy Cross 20
Temple 3 1st Half 18:13
Villanova 5
Georgia Southern 11:00 AM
Southern U
Xavier 11:00 AM
Kennesaw St
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Brescia 12:00 PM
Marshall
(22) West Virginia 1:00 PM
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UMKC
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IUPU-Ft Wayne
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(25) DePaul
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Tulane
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BYU 8:00 PM
Utah State
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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 NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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