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Minnesota Vikings 2023 Training Camp Preview

Minnesota Vikings Training Camp

Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
(Andy Kenutis/Minnesota Vikings)

Minnesota Vikings 2023 Training Camp Preview

The Minnesota Vikings had one of their best regular seasons in franchise history a year ago, finishing 13-4 — their third-ever season with at least 13 wins, first since 2017 — including a remarkable 11-0 in one-score games. Though it all came crashing to a halt in the Wild Card round against the Giants, as they made swift offseason personnel changes — letting go of key veterans Eric Kendricks, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook. They also made a much-needed significant change at defensive coordinator, bringing in Brian Flores for Ed Donatell. While there’s expected to be some regression, the Vikings are still expected to make a run at the playoffs for the third time in five years in 2023. Let’s dive into their training camp preview below to find out!

Three Position Battles to Watch:

Cornerback: Akayleb Evans v. Andrew Booth Jr.

Byron Murphy, who inked a two-year deal with the Vikings in March, is currently their only cornerback with real in-game experience. Evans and Booth Jr. were both rookies last year; Evans played 10 games while Booth Jr. missed all but six due to injury. It will also rely on third-round pick Mehki Blackmon, one of the more physical corners in this most recent draft class despite playing for a below-average USC defense. This cornerback room lost veteran Patrick Peterson to Pittsburgh and surprisingly cut 24-year-old Cameron Dantzler earlier this offseason, so it’s going to need any and all the contributions it can.

Defensive End: Marcus Davenport v. D.J. Wonnum

While the EDGE rusher did ask for his release in March, the Vikings traded Za’Darius Smith to the Cleveland Browns in May for future draft capital, leaving an open competition on the opposite side of highly-touted EDGE rusher Danielle Hunter.

Both Davenport and Wonnum will be heavily involved in its pass-rush rotation, but who gets the starting nod? Wonnum had four sacks in a reserve role last season after accumulating eight (in 14 starts; 17 games) in 2021. Davenport, who signed with Minnesota earlier this offseason, has dealt with injuries throughout his career but is two seasons removed from tallying 9.0 sacks in 11 games. The untapped potential for both remains, and both are going to be integral in Flores’ scheme, but I’m interested to see how things shake out heading into August.

Second-String Tunning Back: Ty Chandler v. Kene Nwangwu

Mattison, who is more experienced behind center than both Chandler and Nwangwu, garnered 25 percent of the team’s snaps last year. Though it still likely means that whoever wins the No. 2 job behind Mattison could win the starting job. The former dazzled in the preseason but totaled just six carries for 20 yards, spending most of the season on injured reserve, while the latter showcased more speed and agility as one of Minnesota’s top returnmen. They could also give reps to seventh-round rookie DeWayne McBride, even though he had fumble problems at UAB. Right now, I’d give the edge to Nwangwu, but that’s why it’s a competition, folks!

Ready to Breakout: Alexander Mattison

I might not be incredibly high on Mattison, but he’s historically been very productive in games Cook didn’t start.

Now that Cook is no longer on the roster, Mattison is expected to take RB1 reps in 2023. His fantasy potential is absurd, despite never rushing for 500 yards or scoring more than six total touchdowns in any given season. While he may not be as explosive as Cook, or as polished in the passing game, don’t be surprised if Mattison has a breakout season as RB1 in 2023.

Rookie to Watch: Jordan Addison

This one was a layup, and rightfully so. The Minnesota Vikings entered the draft with only five picks and ended with six, so there weren’t many options to pick from.

Addison was dubbed one of the best receivers in this class. He had 59 receptions for 875 yards and eight touchdowns in his first-and-only season at USC after winning the Biletnikoff Award in 2021, when he recorded 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final season at Pitt with Kenny Pickett behind center.

He may not have been the most athletically gifted wideout, but his route running and ability to create separation were as good as any receiver in this class. After losing Thielen, bringing in Addison to presumably take his spot if he beats out K.J. Osborn in training camp. He projects to be Minnesota’s top rookie by far.

Fantasy Sleeper: Mattison

In Fantasy Pros’ preliminary 2023 rankings, Mattison is RB26 — one spot ahead of the man he’s replacing in Cook, who remains unsigned. That’s too low for a player who’s expected to take a huge leap in overall volume and production, no?

What do you think about the Vikings ahead of training camp? Let us know in the comments!


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