Our early practice reports painted the Minnesota Vikings defense as the better unit during the first week of training camp practices. Now into Week 2, the offense continues to make strides. Protection appears better, receivers are stepping up, and each of the top two quarterbacks are making throws on time.
It helps that the quality of the second-team pass-catchers is relatively high compared to the second-team corners. That receiving unit often involves at least two out of Justin Jefferson, Chad Beebe, Alexander Hollins and Tajae Sharpe — Sean Mannion has certainly benefited.
Hollins is undoubtedly the surprise of the group as he continues to see more and more time with the 2s and continues to make plays. Monday it was a bomb down the right sideline during 1-on-1s against Kris Boyd. Hollins isn’t going to win a lot of contested catches, but he seems to have the long speed gene that other Vikings depth receivers lack.
Bisi Johnson simply won’t give an inch to Jefferson either. Those who expected Jefferson to surpass Johnson midway through camp may have to get comfortable with Johnson as the Week 1 WR2. He’s simply made more plays, but that’s not to say Jefferson has been a disappointment. Johnson made two great grabs during 7-on-7 drills Monday to add to his resume of highlights.
The improved passing attack means corners are getting victimized, and Monday it was mostly Holton Hill. He gave up at least two receptions during 7-on-7s, dropped an interception in situational drills, then was beaten by Adam Thielen on the next play for a touchdown. Altogether, though, Hill has shown more good than bad throughout camp.
Here are the other noteworthy nuggets from practice:
- Still no Danielle Hunter. That’s eight in a row missed for the Pro Bowler, who oddly hasn’t shown any sign of rehabbing during the open practices.
- P Britton Colquitt was also absent, so the Vikings used stand-ins Harrison Smith, Anthony Harris and Dan Bailey during special teams drills. (No, they weren’t actually punting.) Colquitt has ostensibly been limited in recent days.
- The Vikings appeared to have more official referees Monday after using their scouting department during previous practices. The new crew wasn’t afraid to throw flags.
- Rookie Ezra Cleveland was demoted to the third-team Monday as Aviante Collins and Dakota Dozier split the first- and second-team reps at left guard. Typically whichever player out of Dozier and Collins hadn’t been with the starters was repping with the 3s. It’s looking more and more like Cleveland is out of the running to be a Week 1 starter.
- Kenny Willekes and D.J. Wonnum took some second-team reps at defensive end when Jalyn Holmes moved inside and Eddie Yarbrough moved up to the 1s.