SKOR North

Zulgad’s Roundup: Kellen Mond’s play, Garrett Bradbury’s struggles among camp observations

AP22210826389766-768x518-1

Observations from the Vikings’ first eight practices of training camp, including two padded practices held on Monday and Wednesday before an off day Thursday.

  • The Vikings appear to be doing everything in their power to give Kellen Mond an opportunity to beat out Sean Mannion for the backup quarterback job, but Mond still has significant strides to make before he’s ready to be thrust into action. Mond’s biggest issue in practice is that he takes too long make decisions with the ball. Part of that is playing in Kevin O’Connell’s new offense, but Mond had all offseason and the spring camps to prepare for this opportunity. The 2021 third-round pick should get plenty of playing time in the Vikings’ three exhibition games.
  • If Mond continues to show he’s not ready for the backup role, it will be interesting to see if the Vikings look to bring in a quarterback. That’s not ideal, but the 30-year-old Mannion also isn’t a good option to start if Kirk Cousins gets hurt and expectations for the Vikings are such that not having at reliable backup seems like a poor decision. Cousins has missed only two games since becoming a starter in 2015, but assuming the 33-year-old will remain an Iron Man is a gamble.
  • After starting center Garrett Bradbury had a shaky practice in the Vikings’ first day in pads on Monday, Chris Reed was moved from guard to center with the second team and Austin Schlottmann was shifted from center to guard. Reed is the most likely lineman to replace Bradbury, if he struggles, and the fact he was so quickly shifted to center appeared to be indication that there is concern about how easily new defensive tackle Harrison Phillips handled Bradbury.
  • The Vikings have no time to waste when it comes to the center position. They will open the season on Sept. 11 against Packers standout defensive tackle Kenny Clark, who is nightmare for many NFL centers and has the potential to spend all afternoon in Cousins’ face. You have to wonder if the Vikings are regretting not bringing in more competition for Bradbury. Bradbury, who ranked last in PFF pass blocking grade among centers the past three years, said this offseason that he had gained about 10 pounds but is that enough to make the Vikings’ 2019 first-round pick a substantially improved player? There’s a reason the Vikings did not pick up Bradbury’s fifth-year option this offseason.
  • There were many who felt rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., only fell to the Vikings in the second round because of medical concerns. They could be right. Booth has been impressive in camp so far, playing on the second team and getting a shot with the first team on Tuesday when Patrick Peterson was given a veteran’s day off. Booth had a nice interception of Cousins early in camp and plays a self-assured style. The key is that Booth must back up his words with a quality performance on a daily basis.
  • After missing all of last season because of a knee injury, tight end Irv Smith Jr. suffered a thumb injury on Monday and had surgery the next day. O’Connell is hoping Smith can return for the opener against the Packers, but he will miss valuable time working in the offense. This presents opportunities for newcomer Johnny Mundt, who knows the Vikings’ offense well having played for O’Connell with the Rams, as well as Ben Ellefson and Zach Davidson. If Smith’s absence extends into the regular season, the Vikings could look for a pass catching tight end.
  • Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn appear set atop the Vikings’ depth chart at wide receiver. Smith’s absence could result in more three wide receivers looks. Osborn, a fifth-round pick in 2020, surprised the Vikings with his play in training camp last year before having a breakout season. He looks even better in camp this summer.
  • Ihmir Smith-Marsette a fifth-round pick in 2021, is competing for a spot at wide receiver and will give himself an even better opportunity to make the roster if he can win the punt return job.
  • Cam Bynum continues to be a first-team safety alongside Harrison Smith and it doesn’t appear that will change. A fourth-round pick in 2021, Bynum impressed the Vikings’ new brass with his work in the offseason camps. One has to think the Vikings will find ways to mix first-round pick Lewis Cine into a three-safety package.
  • Guard Wyatt Davis, a third-round pick in 2021, is stuck on the third team and, best case, is likely headed for the practice squad this season. Meanwhile, rookie second-round pick Ed Ingram got first-team reps at right guard on Tuesday as veteran newcomer Jesse Davis was given a day to rest. Davis appears set to be the Vikings’ starting right guard to open the season, but Ingram could push him for that job.
  • Kicker Greg Joseph made all seven of his field-goal attempts during Wednesday’s practice, including six in a row near the end of the session.

Source