MINI-CAMP NOTEBOOK: Zimmer on Treadwell, QB Transitions & Three Starters Out

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher (USA Today Sports)

Few Minnesota Vikings have been more scrutinized over the past two-plus years than former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell.

The 23rd pick of the 2016 draft generated a great deal of hype in his first summer with the club, billed as the big, strong receiving target the Vikings needed. The two seasons that ensued left him without a single touchdown and seemingly nicked up whenever opportunities might have arisen.

Treadwell recorded 20 catches for 200 yards on 35 targets a year ago, but he tied for 173rd in the league in yards per route run, according to Pro Football Focus.

His pivotal third season — which will likely dictate whether the Vikings pick up his fifth-year option — has begun with clear expectations from head coach Mike Zimmer, who said at the NFL Combine that Treadwell needed to “get out of his own way.”

Treadwell began organized team activities rehabbing an undisclosed injury but has since returned to the field and taken a large portion of first-team reps with the Kirk Cousins-led offense. At Tuesday’s mini-camp practice, Treadwell made a pair of impressive grabs over the middle.

Not all was perfect, though.

“He’s still got some areas where he’s got to continue to improve,” said Zimmer, always the perfectionist. “He had a false start out there today, and he had one wrong route.”

Zimmer was also complimentary. Early in spring practices he said Treadwell was “letting it flow” more than in past years.

“So far, so good,” said Zimmer. “He’s done a nice job. He’s caught the ball well this spring.”

New offensive faces

With Kirk Cousins and John DeFilippo in town, the Vikings’ offensive meetings will look different — and probably be a bit more animated — than last year.

The high-energy quarterback and his new offensive coordinator have clicked so far.

“We do try to have great communication back and forth,” Cousins said after an OTA practice. “Receivers have a voice, everybody shares their opinion, and ultimately Coach [DeFilippo] makes the call.”

The 40-year-old coach has also developed a rapport with Zimmer, who is working with his third coordinator in three seasons after Norv Turner resigned and Pat Shurmur filled the head coaching vacancy with the New York Giants.

The defensive-minded Zimmer has made a point the past several years of becoming more involved with the offense, making his relationship with DeFilippo even more important now that it might’ve been at an earlier point in Zimmer’s tenure.

“He’s very detailed and very passionate about everything,” Zimmer said. “We can have really open conversations. He listens to the things I say would hurt defenses. It’s been really good. I think he’s done a great job with the offense.

“When I sit in the meetings with them he does a great job of communicating exactly what he wants. He’s detailed with the work, the plays and alignments, all the different things that they’re doing. We talked about adding more screens, and we ran quite a few more today, so that’s been good. It’s really been seamless.”

Injury updates

Everson Griffen, Andrew Sendejo and Pat Elflein were held out of Tuesday’s mini-camp practice, the fourth straight week the three starters have not participated.

Griffen’s injury is undisclosed, but he was seen with a wrap on his knee at a previous practice. Sendejo’s injury is also undisclosed, though he suffered a calf injury in January’s NFC Championship Game. Elflein’s injury stems from the same game. He broke his ankle in the second half against Philadelphia and is believed to be on track for a full recovery.

Also not participating:

  • WR Stacy Coley
  • S Tray Matthews
  • CB Trevon Mathis
  • WR Jeff Badet
  • DT Jalyn Holmes

DE Hercules Mata’afa tore his ACL last Wednesday and is out for the year.

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Photo Credit: Bill Streicher (USA Today Sports)


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