Jordan Addison, Mekhi Blackmon and more

Two weeks of Minnesota Vikings training camp have passed and we are learning more and more about the 2023 squad each and every day.

As we continue to move forward throughout training camp, there are things to learn about the team. I have been at practice three times so far this year and am opening up the mailbag to answer any and all questions about where the players and team sit currently, including a question about pizza.

Strong safety room?

Honestly, this safety room is the best singular unit on the team. The top four players are all practicing at starter level and Jay Ward has looked comfortable when he has practiced. His versatility will get him on the field in sub packages. There are concerns about Lewis Cine, but he will be just fine. His practices have been more positive than negative.

Defense expectations

Mid-teens is pushing it, but getting close to 20th in total and scoring defense is plausible. Brian Flores is a great defensive mind and play caller. Unlike under Ed Donatell, players are going to be used to the best of their ability and put in situations to thrive. Mekhi Blackmon and Ivan Pace Jr. are two players that Flores is very high on and they will have roles in the offense. Despite them having great training camps, they are rookies and we need to treat them as such.

Speaking of Mekhi Blackmon

My opinion hasn’t moved much at all on Blackmon. He is a man cover corner that has an aggressive streak to him, but there are plenty of warts to worry about. Size is arguably the biggest one, as he weighed in at the combine at 178 lbs. I wrote about Blackmon with film clips back in May and that opinion holds true after two weeks of training camp.

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Defensive line

This is a tough one. The loss of James Lynch due to a torn ACL doesn’t impact the defensive line much, as I didn’t have him making the 53-man roster. Right now, the only thing that feels certain is Harrison Phillips and Dean Lowry will make the team. The depth is currently in flux and players have been rotated in consistently. We will learn more on Thursday against the Seattle Seahawks.

Keep an eye on Khyiris Tonga. He has flashed the ability to rush the passer again during training camp.

Players who can step up

The easy answer here is Ivan Pace Jr. He is a very talented linebacker and has shown out in a big way over the last two weeks. His ability to rush the passer and blitz is something the Vikings can maximize with Flores’ aggressive scheme.

The one guy to look at potentially not be as impactful as projected is wide receiver K.J. Osborn. A tremendously hard worker, he doesn’t have the same level of talent as the receiver behind him in Jordan Addison. It’s not an insult to Osborn but rather about the talent around him. If Addison takes over as WR2, Osborn could see significantly less snaps.

Who will be RB2?

Based on minicamp, it was Kene Nwangwu. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been practicing for the last week. That goes down to Ty Chandler and DeWayne McBride. So far, Chandler has looked better than McBride, who is showing struggles with the passing game. That shouldn’t be a surprise though, as he only caught five passes in college. Chandler is a talented player with elite explosiveness for the position and has shown that along with improved vision.

Jordan Addison

Addison certainly has the talent, but he has two things going against him: three quarterbacks selected in the top four and playing time. The award historically goes to quarterbacks and three of them are going likely be the day-one starter. Plus, will Addison be a starter on day one? That likely won’t happen, which is going to make it very hard to get the award.

Leaders in the locker room

Leadership is a weird thing. It comes in many different forms with some being vocal, some leading by example and some do a little bit of both. This team has a lot of leaders, but they aren’t the most vocal. Harrison Smith and Danielle Hunter are big lead-by-example guys. That’s a great way to lead, but it doesn’t appear to the masses that they are being great leaders. This team has great leadership and expect Justin Jefferson to step up moving forward.

Imrprovement on the interior?

The Vikings have already tried to do so with Dalton Risner. I think with preseason games and joint practices with both the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals, we will learn a lot about what the depth looks like and how the team feels about it. Make no mistake, it’s not a coincidence that the Vikings brought in Dalton Risner for a visit last week.

Bonus question: Pineapple on pizza?

No. Absolutely not. Sausage and pepperoni belong on a pizza, not pineapple.

The Real Forno Show

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Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire

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