With five games left in his rookie season, first-round pick Laquon Treadwell has caught just one NFL pass and has been inactive four times. But coach Mike Zimmer believes the wide receiver has turned a corner.
“A few weeks ago, you could just kind of tell in practice,” Zimmer said before Monday’s practice. “For a while there he was pressing, trying to do everything. It’s probably been a few weeks now that he’s been starting to look better.”
Treadwell made his first career start, in place of the injured Stefon Diggs, in Thursday’s 16-13 loss to the Detroit Lions and played a career-high 34 snaps on offense. Officially, he was not targeted by quarterback Sam Bradford, though.
The only time Bradford threw his way, Treadwell, 21, was interfered with by Lions cornerback Darius Slay, bobbled the pass and then watched safety Glover Quin intercept it, only to have the play wiped out by Slay’s penalty.
“That last game really helped me with my mental state, just feeling the game out and knowing the actual speed of the game,” he said, later adding, “After [playing] this past week, I can do a lot better and I didn’t play up to my potential.”
When the Vikings drafted Treadwell with the 23rd overall pick this past spring, the team believed Treadwell still had not regained all of the explosiveness he had displayed before suffering a gruesome leg injury during his 2014 college season at Mississippi. Seven months later, Zimmer feels Treadwell’s quickness and acceleration have improved.
“I feel like he’s pretty healthy now,” Zimmer said. “The last few weeks, I think he’s been kind of catching up to the NFL a little bit now. … He’ll be a good player.”
Bradford tweaks ankle
Bradford showed up on the official injury report for the first time this season. He was listed as a limited participant with an ankle injury.
He had a slight hitch in his step as he walked through the locker room after practice, but it would be a surprise if he didn’t start Thursday night against the Cowboys.
Diggs, who missed the loss to the Lions because of a knee injury, returned to practice Monday.
“I feel good,” the wide receiver said. “I’m confident that I can get out there.”
But six other starters or key contributors sat out practice again.
Center Joe Berger, safety Harrison Smith, cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Marcus Sherels and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd were held out of practice. Middle linebacker Eric Kendricks didn’t appear to do much of anything either.
Meanwhile, veteran outside linebacker Chad Greenway did not practice Monday morning because of the pending arrival of his fourth child with his wife, Jennifer.
Weatherly is rewarded
The Vikings last week waived running back Ronnie Hillman to make room on the 53-man roster for rookie defensive end Stephen Weatherly, a seventh-round pick who had been on the practice squad since being cut after the preseason.
“He’s been working real hard. He’s athletic. He’s long, [which] we like,” Zimmer said Monday when asked about the 22-year-old. “He’s been getting better.”
The 6-5, 265-pound defensive end was a healthy scratch at Detroit. But he said the promotion to the active roster was a nice reward.
“For them to say, ‘This guy has been working hard and busting his butt, and we’re going to give him an opportunity,’ that means a lot to me,” Weatherly said.
New look for Color Rush
The Vikings this week will wear for the first time their “color rush” uniforms as part of the NFL’s weekly Thursday night promotion. The uniforms, heavy on the purple with some yellow mixed in, garnered mixed reviews from players.
Naturally, Diggs, who wore at least a dozen different uniform combinations at Maryland, was “excited to put something new on” for the primetime game.
Linebacker Anthony Barr, meanwhile, probably couldn’t care less.
“They’re cool. I mean, it’s not that sweet,” Barr said a shrug. “They look cool. It will be fun to wear them. But I don’t really think they’re a big deal honestly.”