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Storylines For Training Camp

By: Tanishka Mhaskar
July 23rd, 2018

5 things to keep an eye out when training camp kicks off.

The Minnesota Vikings start their first training camp at TCO performance center on Tuesday, July 24th. Keep reading to keep an eye on some important things to know about your favorite football team. 

1) The offensive line

The 2018 Minnesota Vikings don't have many weaknesses, but this is one that could be very vital for the rest of the team. If the offensive line doesn't hold up through the regular season and a deep playoff run, the Vikings could be in trouble. With the recent passing of offensive line coach Tony Sparano, things are more uncertain than they already were. 

Fortunately, we have 4 of 5 starters returning (Riley Reiff, Nick Easton, Pat Elflein, and Mike Remmers), but who will replace right guard Joe Berger? With the flexibility of Mike Remmers-either at right tackle or right guard-the Vikings can do many things. 

If they choose to keep Mike Remmers inside at RG, they can give Rashod Hill, who played exceptionally well in 2017, the start at RT. Brian O'Neill, the 2018 second round pick is also a viable option. If they choose to slide Mike Remmers to the outside, they can slide in Danny Isidora or Tom Compton at guard. 

The line was an improvement from 2016, but fell apart towards the end of the season. The Vikings must maintain it this year as they face some stellar defensive lines early in the season. 

2) The development of QB Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback. He does most things right. He just has a couple pressing flaws that make people see only the worst in him. When the Vikings signed him this offseason, they believed in him. They believed that he would be the final piece to bring home a Super Bowl. Now, it is Super Bowl or bust for the Minnesota Vikings. 

Can Kirk Cousins handle the pressure? His turnovers and red zone play were on the high side in 2017, but hopefully with OC John DeFilippo and QB coach Kevin Stefanski, Cousins manages to lower those numbers this season.

It should help that he now has the best WR duo in the NFL, and a stellar TE to throw to. It is important for the signal-caller to develop chemistry with the receivers, as well as reducing some of his mistakes.

3) Who will be WR3?

Will Laquon Treadwell have his breakout season? Vikings fans have been wondering this since Treadwell was drafted in the first round in 2016. These days the questions are more along the line, "Will Laquon Treadwell make the roster?" 

Many people have already given Treadwell the "bust" label, but with a new quarterback under center, things could be different. Treadwell has had a great offseason showing, but if that's going to carry over? We will have to wait and see. 

If Treadwell doesn't become WR3, the Vikings have the option of Kendall Wright, Stacey Coley, Tavarres King, Brandon Zylstra, Jacob Wienecke and Cayleb Jones. This is a wide variety to choose from, which include the 2017 Chicago Bears leading receiver [Wright], and a 1,000+ yard receiver from the CFL [Zylstra]. 

4) RB Dalvin Cook's health

Dalvin Cook led the league in rushing before he tore his ACL in Week 4. Many people have forgotten him, but he was Alvin Kamara before Alvin Kamara was Alvin Kamara. Cook will be a good reliever for Cousins to just turn around and hand the ball off to. 

Cook proved early on that he could be one of the league's most versatile backs. His flexibility and durability were some of his best qualities, so it will be critical to see if he still has that after the ACL tear. 

Cook was ahead of schedule and looked good when OTAs started, so if things keep up, expect him to stun you on the field.

5) The Kicker Battle

Kai Forbath signed a one year extension with the Vikings before the 2018 NFL draft. In the 2018 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings traded up in the 5th round to draft a kicker. Lots of people were left confused by that move. 

Usually, franchises don't draft kickers that high, and rarely do they trade up to do so. This is going to be a very dramatic situation. The rookie has outkicked the veteran so far, but don't count cobra Kai quite yet. Game situations are very different from practice. 

It would be surprising if such a high drafted kicker didn't make the roster. Carlson has a very strong leg that lets him kick 70 yards. Forbath has performed exceptionally well, but not good enough to be locked in. He needs the competition to keep him motivated.