Minnesota Vikings training camp began without too many surprises, and for a team with an established quarterback and few position battles to truly worry about, it turned out to be a slow news day.
Nevertheless, there were a few updates worth keeping track of, and an opening day well worth the attention.
Latest Practice Report From Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Minnesota Vikings Injury News
The Vikings had a number of players sit out of practice.
- G Chris Reed
- EDGE Andre Carter II
- OT Brian O’Neill
- EDGE Danielle Hunter
Three of the absences were due to apparent injury, including Chris Reed, who was placed on the Active/Non-Football Injury list, and Andre Carter II, who was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.
The third player was Brian O’Neill, who was not placed on any kind of injury list but sat out practice. In his stead, tackle Oli Udoh took his place with the starting unit. The Vikings may not be considering Udoh as the primary right tackle backup, however, as Blake Brandel has been cross-training at guard and may not have been available to play tackle in the first practice as a result. Brandel was the Vikings’ primary backup OT throughout the regular season in 2022.
Danielle Hunter was not present at practice, and his absence is almost certainly due to his ongoing contract dispute with the Vikings. He did not hold out of practice and therefore did not incur a fine but showed up for training camp without the intent to practice until he receives a new deal with the team.
D.J. Wonnum practiced with the first team without Hunter present.
Minnesota Vikings Depth Chart News
That meant that the starting defense featured Wonnum alongside Marcus Davenport and a pair of nose tackles in Harrison Phillips and Khyiris Tonga. By playing Tonga instead of Dean Lowry, the Vikings might be signaling their intent to stuff the middle of the defense, even in nickel sets, with run stoppers.
That could mean making it easier to play with a light box and therefore make it counterintuitively easy to defend the pass, or it could mean that the Vikings simply don’t trust their interior pass rushers. In the base defense, Lowry played alongside the other two tackles.
As expected, the two starting linebackers in base and in nickel were Brian Asamoah and Jordan Hicks.
The most notable defensive depth chart shakeup was second-round pick and former Patriots cornerback Joejuan Williams playing with the first team as an outside corner, with Akayleb Evans opposite him and Byron Murphy in the slot. Safety Josh Metellus also occasionally rotated in with the first team.
If that’s the case, it’s bad news for Andrew Booth Jr., who many saw as the primary competition for the outside cornerback spot in nickel sets. It also might mean that rookie third-round corner Mekhi Blackmon isn’t quite ready to play the slot for the Vikings.
According to Will Ragatz at Sports Illustrated, the backup nickel defense also contained a surprise with Ivan Pace Jr. playing instead of Troy Reeder or William Kwenkeu.
On offense, Alexander Mattison started at running back, with Kene Nwangwu playing with the second team. Jordan Addison immediately played with the first team despite missing a good portion of spring practices due to an injury. He rotated in with Jalen Nailor, who played a decent amount with the first team as well.
Minnesota Vikings Training Camp Standouts
There was a consensus among media attendees that Kirk Cousins had a sharp day, as described by Sam Ekstrom of Locked On Vikings.
More from #Vikings training camp:
Other than one throw broken up by Camryn Bynum, Kirk Cousins was very sharp. Tight-window connections with TJ Hockenson, Jordan Addison and KJ Osborn today, amongst others.
Nick Mullens had a big connection to Trishton Jackson.
— Sam Ekstrom (@SamEkstrom) July 26, 2023
Alec Lewis of The Athletic also noted that Nailor was a standout at receiver. Without fully padded practices, it’s difficult to get a sense of the winners and losers among the offensive and defensive lines, and there isn’t much to tell us about linebacker or running back performance.