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.


Vikings minicamp: Three things to watch

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: June 17, 2014 - 7:27 AM

Here we are, the final offseason event for the Vikings until training camp: a three-day mandatory minicamp that begins on Tuesday.

No holdouts are expected as we’ve seen everyone that could participate (more on that later) during the team’s voluntary OTAs over the last three weeks. The next three days will be another chance for head coach Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff to see progression from the players on the schemes and specific techniques at every position. The minicamp will include two two-a-days (Tuesday and Wednesday), though pads and contract drills are still prohibited.

The players will take a month break after the conclusion of minicamp before reporting to training camp on July 24. In the meantime, here are few things to watch over the next three days:

1. The only two players that missed all the OTA sessions will finally get a chance to participate this week. Linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive end Scott Crichton will be available with the conclusion of their finals at UCLA and Oregon State. Both schools are on a quarters system and did not end until last week. Per NFL rules, rookies can't participate in team activities until they finished their semester or quarter. Guard David Yankey missed most of the OTA sessions  wrapping up school at Stanford but caught the final two practices last week.

We will finally get a better idea of how the Vikings plan to use Barr, who played in a 3-4 defense at UCLA. He’s very versatile and gives Zimmer a lot of flexibility with the front seven and could mix up some of the rotations we’ve already seen at linebacker.

2. Quarterback Matt Cassel received the majority of the first team reps during OTAs over Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder. We’ve seen a slight increase in first team reps for Bridgewater during the final week of OTAs. Nothing dramatic to draw any conclusions, and Cassel will probably continue to receive the majority of the first team reps during minicamp, but it’ll be interesting to see if Bridgewater’s first team reps continue to gradually increase. The Vikings clearly don't plan to rush Bridgewater into an immediate starting quarterback, but he has looked good so far.

3. Offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive tackle Linval Joseph were both limited during OTAs. Kalil said last week he wasn’t sure if he’ll participate during minicamp as he recovers from minor offseason knee surgery but should be a full participant in training camp. Kevin Murphy and Antonio “Tiny” Richardson received first team reps at left tackle in his absence.

Zimmer said Joseph had an undisclosed procedure during the offseason and was close to becoming a full participant during OTAs. He remained limited during the only open OTA session on Wednesday with Fred Evans and Tom Johnson filling in at nose tackle. 

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