EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings have wide-open competition at right guard, weakside linebacker in the base defense, the three-technique defensive tackle spot and kick returner.
But don’t overlook what’s going on at receiver.
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen figure to be starters and get plenty of snaps as the top two receivers coming back from last season. But in offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s attack, a third receiver will be a valuable and oft-used weapon.
During Wednesday’s OTA practice, which was open to the media, the third receiver running with the first offense was Laquon Treadwell. But the disappointing 2016 first-round draft pick has an intriguing big fella pushing him — St. Paul native Michael Floyd.
“(Floyd) is the guy that’s probably most behind,” Shurmur said of the 6-3, 220-pounder signed only two weeks ago. “But he’s a fast learner. He’s a really good route-runner. And you can see that he’s a guy that can make plays.”
The Vikings took a one-year, $1.5 million gamble that a Minnesota homecoming will straighten out Floyd’s well-documented off-the-field troubles.
Floyd’s second DUI got him cut from the Arizona Cardinals during the 2016 season. He ended up in New England, but was unimpressive and ended up being inactive in the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory.
Floyd hit free agency, but the Vikings were the only team interested in the 27-year-old veteran, who was selected 13th overall in the 2012 draft. Floyd was under house arrest in Arizona until June, but had that portion of his DUI sentence transferred to Minnesota.
He’s staying with tight end and former Notre Dame teammate Kyle Rudolph, Rudolph’s wife and their twin seven-month-old girls.
“Everything I’ve been through was eye-opening,” Floyd said. “The stuff that you go through, positive or negative, grows you as a person. I couldn’t be in a better position right now.”
The Vikings are hoping that’s the case. They’ve lacked a bonafide big receiver in their offense since Sidney Rice filled that role back in 2009. Treadwell was drafted with that in mind in 2016, but he was virtually invisible all season and finished with one catch for 15 yards.
Treadwell is ahead of Floyd at this point, but, of course, there’s ample time for Floyd to flex his talent and NFL experience. Floyd has 246 career catches with 24 touchdowns and a 15.4-yard average in 78 NFL games, including 47 starts.
“I’m ready to do whatever it takes to help this team win,” Floyd said.
Staying out of trouble off the field is priority No. 1, of course. If Floyd does that, look for him to make Treadwell’s hot seat even hotter.
Copyright © 2017
TTWN Media Networks Inc.