3 players with the most to gain in training camp for the Vikings
All the Minnesota Vikings needed was a franchise quarterback to get over the top. That didn’t entirely turn out to be the case for the Vikings in 2018.
Before the 2018 season, the Vikings decided to empty their bank account on Kirk Cousins in hopes it’d get them closer to reaching the Super Bowl. After all, in 2017, Case Keenum helped lead the Vikings to the NFC Championship game.
Cousins had a decent season, but the whole team seemed out of sorts. At the beginning of the season, the defense struggled to the point where they were allowing 27 points to a putrid Buffalo Bills offense.
Although, in that same game, Cousins and the offense were only able to deliver just six points. After going 8-7-1 and missing the playoffs in 2018, Mike Zimmer and company are ready to make fans forget about last season.
Getting Dalvin Cook healthy for training camp will be an excellent start for Minnesota. Furthermore, the running game will be crucial to the Vikings righting the ship.
Besides Cook, there are a few players who can benefit from the few weeks of training camp. Here are the three players on the Vikings with the most to gain during training camp this year.
3. Chad Beebe
As everyone knows, Minnesota boasts arguably the best receiver duo in the NFL in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. With Laquon Treadwell struggling to adjust to the NFL, the slot receiver position is up for grabs.
This offseason, Chad Beebe has thoroughly impressed the coaching staff and may work his way into a role in the offense. So far, Beebe has seen work as the third receiver and as the punt returner in OTAs and minicamps.
Last year, Beebe worked his way onto the roster as an undrafted free agent out of Northern Illinois. Beebe saw minimal work with just four catches for 39 yards.
Nonetheless, in year-two, if Beebe can transfer what he’s done so far this offseason to training camp, he could win the third receiver spot.
2. Irv Smith Jr.
The Vikings may have signed Kyle Rudolph to an extension, but they didn’t draft Irv Smith Jr. for no reason. Minnesota drafted Smith with their second-round selection in hopes he can become a go-to target in the passing game.
Smith Jr. may have a ton of potential as a pass-catcher, but his ability to run block makes him an instant candidate to see the field. Offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski could incorporate some two-tight end sets in the offense.
This would allow the Vikings to overcome the deficiencies they may have at the third receiver position. For now, Smith Jr. finds himself as the backup to Rudolph but if Smith Jr. improves during training camp, could the Vikings re-open talks to trade Rudolph?
It’s a slim possibility, but for now, both Rudolph and Smith Jr. could create an excellent tight end duo in Minnesota.
1. Trae Waynes
“This is the year.” “No, this will be the year.” It seems like every season since 2015 we’ve heard the phrase, “this will be the year” when it comes to Trae Waynes.
Waynes hasn’t been completely useless, but he has yet to live up to the expectations that come with being drafted 11th overall. Coming into the NFL, at 6-foot and nearly 200 pounds with long arms, Waynes was the prototypical cornerback that teams are looking for.
In his four seasons, Waynes has accumulated six interceptions, 34 deflections, and 178 total tackles. In recent seasons, Minnesota has reportedly shopped Waynes, but there haven’t been any takers.
Now, the fifth-year cornerback enters the final year of his rookie deal after the Vikings picked up his fifth-year option. The Vikings cornerback is finally in a true make it or break it year in 2019. Waynes can cement himself as the cornerback next to Xavier Rhodes with a strong outing in training camp.