FOX Sports North breaks down five players to keep an eye on during Minnesota Vikings training camp
Associated PressAndy Clayton-King
Laquon Treadwell, WR
Treadwell’s been on these “players to watch” lists since he was selected 23rd overall in 2016, as the league waits to see the wide receiver rise to his first-round potential. This season could be his last chance. Mike Zimmer said in an interview with KFAN last week the 23-year-old impressed at OTAs and had “the best spring of his career.” Stuck behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs on the wide receiver depth chart, Treadwell will need a solid camp and preseason to beat out Kendall Wright for the No. 3 spot, a definite possibility with a new quarterback under center in Kirk Cousins.
Jake Wieneke/Brandon Zylstra, WR
Looking for the next Adam Thielen? Eyes will be on Wieneke and Zylstra all camp long as the two Minnesota natives fight for a spot on the roster. Wieneke, who played high school football at Maple Grove and starred in college at South Dakota State, signed with his hometown team as an undrafted free agent in April. Zylstra, a product of Spicer, Minn., is making a run at the NFL after a tearing up the Canadian Football League -- he led the CFL with 1,687 receiving yards on 100 receptions in 2017. Both will have the crowd at TCO Performance Center behind them during practices and scrimmages as they try to beat the odds and join a Minnesota-heavy wide receiver corps for good.
John E. SokolowskiJohn E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo
Daniel Carlson, K
It will be a Carlson vs. Kai Forbath showdown for the Vikings’ place kicker position. Although Forbath has been solid in his two seasons with the Vikings – he made field-goal attempts at an 88.7 percent clip and extra-point attempts 84.9 percent of the time – Carlson is likely the favorite to take over. The Vikings traded two sixth-round picks to move up and select the Auburn product in the fifth round (No. 167 overall), making the 23-year-old the highest-drafted kicker in Vikings history. That’s an awful lot of assets to give up just to send a message to Forbath.
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Brian O'Neill, OT/OG
Minnesota addressed its need for depth in the trenches in the second round of April’s draft, selecting Pittsburgh tackle Brian O’Neill 62nd overall. Does he have a starting spot on the line as a rookie? Joe Berger retired in the offseason, creating a hole at right guard. Mike Zimmer mentioned to KFAN last week he expects Mike Remmers to slide to right guard, which opens up right tackle – a position O’Neill played as a redshirt freshman and sophomore in college from 2015-16. Rashod Hill, who appeared in 11 games with Minnesota last season, and Tom Compton – a Minnesota native one of Cousins’ best friends – will be O’Neill’s biggest competition for the starting role.
Charles LeClaireCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport
Marcus Sherels, CB
We’re not saying Sherels isn’t going to make the team – he’s been proving people wrong since fighting his way onto the Vikings’ practice squad as an UDFA in 2010. But his role as a punt returner is more up in the air than in past training camps. That’s because cornerback Mike Hughes, Minnesota’s first-round pick this spring, starred as a return man for Central Florida in 2017. Hughes returned 14 punts for 233 yards (16.6 average) and a touchdown, as well as 20 kickoffs for 635 yards (31.8 average) and two scores. Sherels is Minnesota’s all-time leader in punt returns (208), PR yards (2,171) and PR touchdowns (5), so the job will likely be back in his hands – but it’s something to watch for as training camp begins.
Charlie Neibergall/Associated PrCharlie Neibergall