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 4 Downs: Zimmer, training camp, Patterson, Ochoa

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: June 30, 2014 - 8:47 AM

Every Monday morning during the offseason we’ll take four questions from Twitter for our weekly mailbag using the #VikingsST hashtag.

Ah, a non-quarterback battle question. Very refreshing to see. Outside of quarterback, the linebacker situation will the draw the most attention in training camp. We really don’t know who will be the other two linebackers next to Chad Greenway when the season opens.

But that’d be an easy cop out. I’ll give you three positions to watch. I’m looking forward to the competition at cornerback between Josh Robinson and Derek Cox as the team’s third cornerback behind Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn, the battle at left guard if David Yankey can adapt quickly and compete against Charlie Johnson and the backup tight end situation between Rhett Ellison, Chase Ford, AC Leonard and Allen Reisner.

No I don’t think that will happen. I don’t even think Cordarrelle Patterson will have the most touchdown receptions on the team. Kyle Rudolph is in the best position to record double-digit touchdown receptions this season when taking into consideration Norv Turner’s offense and Rudolph’s capability as a red zone threat in 2012.

It’s nothing against Patterson, who has been the obvious pick as the Vikings’ breakout player this season. Patterson had three receptions within the opponents’ 10-yard line – all were touchdowns. He’ll record double digits in touchdowns this season, not just exclusively as a receiver. Patterson had nine last year (four receiving, three rushing and two kickoff returns), so it’s not a far-fetched idea.

I don’t think Patterson will progress enough this year to surpass some great red zone threats like Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, to name a few. Patterson is down on that list and still has a lot to prove.

One screams, the other doesn’t.

There’s a lot more energy from the coaches during practices, and they definitely have the loudest voices. Zimmer is more aggressive while Frazier was considered a laid back coach.

Is one better than the other? That’s a foolish conversation. You can win championships with both styles. During the newlywed phase of the Zimmer era, the answer will be obvious that the players will prefer Zimmer’s style. A new coach brings a sense of optimism with all the players trying to buy in. I don’t necessarily think Zimmer will be a bad coach but time will tell.

Guillermo Ochoa is a pretty good defender and doesn’t have a team. The Vikings should make a run at the Mexican goalkeeper. Not sure how his fútbol skills will translate to football, though.

Munnerlyn’s missed three regular season games in his five year career. That’s one of the last players the Vikings should be concerned about.

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2014 preseason     
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