4 Takeaways from Day 8 of Vikings Training Camp – Vikings Territory

Now, we rebuild.

Not from a 7-9 season — but from a vaccine-related typhoon that engulfed the Minnesota Vikings for five days. Rookie quarterback Kellen Mond contracted the virus last weekend, sidelining himself and two other quarterbacks — Kirk Cousins and Nate Stanley — who were in close contact with the Texas A&M alumnus.

And that’s all anyone inside the Vikings orbit spoke about for the better part of a week.

Although those two quarterbacks returned to practice, vaccine chatter still surrounded the team. But today should serve as a temporary bookend to the COVID frenzy.

Here are the four notable takeaways from Day Eight of the Vikings 2021 training camp.

1. The Return of Kirk

This was bittersweet.

Cousins is back in charge of the Vikings offense after a five-day hiatus. He did create headlines on Thursday, however. Questioned about the COVID vaccine, Cousins spoke of distancing measures he will take to prevent a redux of this week. He insists that his approach is solution-oriented but seemed to skate the idea of physically getting the COVID vaccination.

To each his own.

The Vikings will navigate the 2021 season with several leaders on the field sans a vaccine. That’s just the way it is when the individual choice aspect of a pandemic collides with the greater good [and health] of the community sentiment.

Some folks trust doctors and scientists; others prefer a wait-and-see or wholistic mindset to pandemic management. The Vikings employ men on both sides of the spectrum.

Nevertheless, the QB1 is back, and he mostly looked sharp on the field during his return.

2. Michael Pierce Gets Live Reps

The “new” Vikings nose tackle hurt his calf while training a few weeks ago. Immediately, doomsayers drew parallels between that injury and Danielle Hunter’s neck malady from 2020. There is no evidence to suggest that either injury has anything to do with other — but Vikings fans are trained to expect the worst.

Well, Pierce is going to be just fine. He waltzed into camp today, receiving live reps for the first time as a member of the purple and gold. Minnesota’s defense was terrible in 2020, so the return of a mammoth run-stuffer in the middle is vital.

Pierce was padless, but onlookers welcome the “baby steps” gig here.

3. The Wildcat Stuff

This is a run formation in which the halfback (usually, anyway) receives the ball directly like a quarterback.

The Vikings are experimenting with this 2000s-like tendency. Perhaps it’s a Klint Kubiak wrinkle — or it could be nothing at all, designed for misdirection. But the Vikings are using it seemingly on a daily basis.

In a league that is trending toward throwing the ball more, this formation feels counterproductive on the surface. Yet, not every NFL team has Dalvin Cook at its disposal. The Wildcat trickery likely won’t be utilized ad nauseam like the Miami Dolphins of 20 years ago but centering Dalvin at the QB spot every now and then is intriguing.

The team is practicing it, and that’s probably a segue to its usage in the 2021 season. Be prepared.

4. Mackensie Alexander Issues Bold Statement

Start with this quote.

Many players will plug a roster as a tool for hype and team camaraderie. This is bold, though.

The 2017 team mentioned by Ragatz was magnificent, led by a devilish defense and unsung playmakers on offense. Alexander was there, contributing to the 13-3 record in his second professional season. The follow-up season, 2018, showcased a damn good roster, but the team flopped miserably in late December that year.

Alexander affirmed today that the 2021 team has a better roster than he’s ever experienced. It’s noteworthy because Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer generally compile fancy rosters. This one, to Alexander, seems different and more talented.