Holy hell training camp has arrived, which means the battle for spots on the final 53 have officially begun. This year is no different than usual and might even be more heated at certain positions than years past. Below we break down some of the more entertaining battles we’ll see in Mankato in the coming weeks.
Battle of the Boot
Kai Forbath Vs. Marshall Koehn
This is one of the most wide open battles in Vikings camp this year. The team really owes nothing to incumbent kicker King Kai Forbath. He was signed as a street free agent a season ago after the team cut Blair Walsh. He was perfect on his field goals, but missed 3 extra points. Marshall Koehn was signed in January by the team. He spent last year with the Miami Dolphins before getting cut at the end of camp. Koehn’s got a big leg and can match Forbath for distance, but clearly is lacking in the experience department. It wouldn’t be shocking to see this battle go on through camp and into the preseason with both of these guys getting reps in games. If it’s close, Koehn could get the nod, as he’d be a cheaper option for the team.
Battle of The Backups
Case Keenum Vs. Taylor Heinicke
The Vikings are set at QB with Sam Bradford as the starter, and Teddy continuing to recover from his horrifying knee injury. The intrigue will be at the backup spot. Keenum definitely has the edge in the experience department, having played in 26 games and performing quite well at times. But other times, he’s been a turnover machine, showing some downright terrible decision making. Heinicke has flashed plenty of ability in preseason games for the Vikings, but blew a golden opportunity a year ago, by kicking out a basement window and severing a tendon in his foot. That decision cost him the majority of the season and a chance to be the Vikings starting quarterback after Teddy went down. It’s clear Keenum has the edge, but if Heinicke performs well in camp and into the preseason, the Vikings will have a tough decision on their hands.
Battle of the Ball Catchers
Rodney Adams Vs. Stacy Cole Vs. Mortiz Bohringer Vs. Jarius Wright Vs. Michael Floyd
The Vikings top 3 wide receivers are basically set. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen should be the starters, with last year’s first round pick, Laquon Treadwell getting every opportunity to win the no.3 job. The question comes in at who will be the 4th and 5th options. The Vikings used a couple late round picks on some pass catchers in this year’s draft. Rodney Adams and Stacey Cole are both 6’1, and what they lack in experience, they make up for in raw talent. The German sensation Moritz Bohringer comes back to try and earn a spot on the roster, and will have to fight off fellow veterans Jarius Wright and Michael Floyd. Floyd is clearly the most talented in this group, but his problems off the field hinder his chances to make the squad. Wright on the other hand just doesn’t seem to be a favorite of the current coaching staff and could find his name among the early cuts. This is an extremely wide open battle and it won’t become much clearer until a few weeks into the preseason.
Battle of the Ballhawks
Andrew Sendejo Vs. Antone Exum Jr. Vs. Jack Tocho Vs. Jayron Kearse Vs. Anthony Harris
It’s hard to believe, but the Vikings still haven’t found a suitable companion at safety across from Harrison Smith. Sendejo got the job last year and didn’t do much with it. Jayron Kearse was a preseason darling a season ago, but seemed lost and unsure of himself when it mattered. Anthony Harris and Antone Exum are likely down to their last chances, though Exum has been getting some recent positive feedback from Zimmer. Jack Tocho is the new blood to the mix, and really has as good a shot as any of these guys to make the team. I think I speak for most Vikings fans when I say at this point, I really don’t care who it is, but for god sakes will someone rise to the occasion and decisively take this spot already?
Battle of the Ball Carriers
Dalvin Cook Vs. Latavius Murray
There really is no question about it, Dalvin Cook is the Vikings running back of the future. The question is, who will be the Vikings running back for 2017? It will likely be a mix of the veteran Murray and rookie Cook, but what kind of split it will be, will be determined in camp and the preseason. Will Murray take 70% of the load, as Cook adjusts to the speed of the NFL game? Maybe Cook proves to be a fast learner and gets most of the snaps right out of the gate? Or maybe it will be a 50/50 split with Jerrick McKinnon sprinkled in here and there. Things will become more clear as we progress deeper and deeper into August, but at this point it’s a camp battle worth watching, especially if you are a fantasy football nerd.