Minnesota Vikings: Kain Colter

MINNEAPOLIS -- We'd talked earlier about the Vikings putting some pieces in place for their practice squad. That group is now almost complete.

The team officially announced the signings of running back Joe Banyard, wide receiver Kain Colter, tight end Chase Ford and tackle Mike Remmers to its practice squad, also announcing it had signed center Zac Kerin, wide receiver Donte Foster, cornerback Kendall James, defensive tackle Isame Faciane and defensive end Justin Trattou to the group. The Vikings' practice squad is at nine, and the final spot could be slotted for offensive lineman Austin Wentworth, whom the Vikings waived on Sunday; a league source said the team was hoping to add Wentworth to the practice squad if he made it through waivers. The Vikings also announced the release of linebacker Larry Dean, who had been a standout the last three seasons on special teams.

For now, though, the nine-man practice squad breaks down like this: one running back, two receivers, one tight end, two offensive linemen, two defensive linemen and one cornerback. All nine players went through training camp with the Vikings, and the team's decision to retain James means it still has control of all 10 players it selected in the May draft.

There could more roster moves coming in the next several days -- it wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings add another safety after releasing Chris Crocker and Kurt Coleman on Saturday -- but apart from some minor tinkering, the Vikings' 2014 squad appears to be mostly in place.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A few observations from the Minnesota Vikings' practice on Wednesday afternoon:
  • With Chad Greenway sitting out of team drills because of an injury to his right wrist, Michael Mauti got most of the work with the first team in Greenway's spot. Greenway had a brace on his wrist, but said he hoped to be back at practice on Thursday. The linebacker also will be in charge of the Vikings' huddle this season, coach Mike Zimmer confirmed on Wednesday; the job typically falls to a middle linebacker, but since Jasper Brinkley and Audie Cole aren't likely to be on the field on passing downs, the Vikings gave the job of relaying defensive calls to Greenway because he figures to be on the field most of the time.
  • The Vikings continued looking at several safeties next to Harrison Smith, giving Robert Blanton, Chris Crocker and Kurt Coleman work with the first team on Wednesday. They'll continue their audition process on Saturday night in Kansas City, with Blanton -- who missed the Vikings' first two preseason games because of a hamstring injury -- receiving a fair share of the work so the Vikings can evaluate him.
  • On a day where the Vikings spent plenty of time with their scout teams on the field, Christian Ponder got much of the work at quarterback, facing the first-team defense for good chunks of the practice. Ponder threw one interception, when Harrison Smith picked off a pass underthrown into double coverage, but made some nice throws the rest of the day. "I think that Christian has improved a lot since we have had him," Zimmer said. "I still like a lot of things that he does, his athletic ability, his intelligence. I keep seeing that he doesn’t have a good arm -- that’s wrong, too. He’s got a good arm. He throws the ball beautifully, he just didn’t make as many plays during the OTAs as some of the other guys did."
  • As the Vikings get closer to special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer's suspension at the beginning of the regular season, interim special-teams coach Joe Marciano has spent his time working with Priefer and assistant special-teams coach Ryan Ficken to mold his system into the Vikings' way of doing things. "His system and Mike's system are very similar," Zimmer said. "He’s obviously in all the meetings and everything in with Mike all the time. He’s trying to learn the same terminology that Mike is using that so when we do go to St. Louis (for the season opener) it’s all the same."
  • Wide receiver Kain Colter left with trainer Eric Sugarman in the middle of practice, and appeared to have an injury to his right hand.

Vikings Tuesday practice report

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Some observations from the Minnesota Vikings' practice on Tuesday afternoon:
  • A day after coach Mike Zimmer hinted Josh Robinson needed to make a prompt return to the field in order to stay in competition for a roster spot, the cornerback did just that. Robinson, who hasn't played in the preseason because of a strained hamstring, did some individual work on Tuesday, and appeared closer to returning to full-team work. The Vikings seem set on moving forward with Captain Munnerlyn as a starting corner in their base defense -- not that that should have ever come as a huge surprise -- but Robinson can keep himself in the running for the third cornerback spot if he gets back in time to show something in the preseason.
  • It was a bit of a sloppy day for the Vikings' quarterbacks on Tuesday; Matt Cassel hit 12 of 20 passes, but had one intercepted by Harrison Smith after it went high off Cordarrelle Patterson's hands, and had another pass batted down at the line of scrimmage. Teddy Bridgewater, who got some work with the first team on Tuesday, hit 15 of 18 throws, and had one dropped by Allen Reisner, but also had to be bailed out by his receivers on a couple completions, like one that Jerome Simpson snared after it was behind him. Christian Ponder got just three plays, carrying the ball himself on one after Jerick McKinnon missed a handoff. He threw one pass, overshooting Kain Colter.
  • Chris Crocker continued to work with the first-team defense on Tuesday, lining up at safety next to Harrison Smith. Andrew Sendejo and Kurt Coleman got some work on the second team, and the Vikings again unveiled their three-safety look in a nickel package.
  • Blair Walsh hit 7 of 8 kicks in a field goal period, connecting from 54 yards on his final attempt of the day. Considering Walsh has missed both of his kicks over 50 yards in the preseason, it was an encouraging sign for the Vikings to see him hit from long range on Tuesday.
  • Greg Jennings probably had the best day of all the receivers, outrunning Captain Munnerlyn on a perfectly-thrown deep shot from Cassel and making a nice catch in front of Xavier Rhodes on a sideline throw from Bridgewater. Rodney Smith, who caught the game-winner from Bridgewater on Saturday, was a frequent target for the rookie; Bridgewater hit a long touchdown throw to Smith, beyond Sendejo and Derek Cox.

Vikings wake-up call: Day 10

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
MANKATO, Minn. -- Setting up the day at Minnesota Vikings camp:

Today's schedule: The Vikings will hold their penultimate practice in Mankato before their first preseason game on Friday night, getting back to work on the Minnesota State practice fields at 4 p.m. ET (3 CT). They'll hold their morning walk-through from 9:30-10:30 a.m. ET (10:30-11:30 CT). Offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator George Edwards are scheduled to address reporters after the walk-through.

More observations from Monday's practice:
  • Offensive coordinator Norv Turner is still working to get Teddy Bridgewater to speed up his dropback and release, which was one of Turner's main coaching points during Bridgewater's private workout with the Vikings last spring. Bridgewater hit 8 of 10 throws in 11-on-11 work on Monday, but again had to be bailed out by his receivers on a couple occasions. He's going through a typical adjustment period for a rookie, and it will likely become easier for Bridgewater to feel the difference between college and the NFL once pass-rushers are actually allowed to touch him on Friday. "Right from the get-go, that is one of the big things that Norv does," coach Mike Zimmer said. "'We have got to get the ball out, you have got to get back quicker, you have to get set up, you have to get the ball out.' In some of the blitz periods, we have guys running by him, which is not going to happen in the game."
  • Linebacker Brandon Watts, who missed Friday and Saturday's practices with a strained hamstring, returned to practice on Monday.
What I'm watching: In reality, the Vikings might only have a couple spots in their lineup still up for grabs, assuming Anthony Barr is the likely starter at strongside linebacker (and it seems safe to make that leap at this point). Other than quarterback, safety might be the biggest competition, and things will get even more competitive with Chris Crocker on the roster. Crocker pointed out on Monday that he's fared well in this defense because of his cover skills, and the fact that the Vikings signed him might mean that they have concerns about the coverage ability of their safety group. The Vikings want to put their safeties in man coverage more often this year than the previous coaching staff did, and Crocker might at least provide a template for what Zimmer wants. The coach said on Monday he's more inclined to stock up on corners than safeties, so competition at the spot could be fierce.

They said it: "It was a great interception. It was poor, poor position on the receiver, but he made a great play. We have to get him to be in the right position and then make the play easy and then he does not have to make great play." --Zimmer, on the diving interception Xavier Rhodes made during Saturday night's practice.
MANKATO, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings will wait until after Friday's preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders to make -- or at least announce -- a decision on how they will replace special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, whom the team suspended for the first three games of the season after he made a homophobic remark during the 2012 season.

"The plan the whole time has been to probably wait until after this game," coach Mike Zimmer said.

That would suggest assistant special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken might be in line to take over for Priefer, whose suspension can be reduced to two games if he completes sensitivity training. Priefer said on Monday morning that he has already been working on plans for the two games he will miss (against St. Louis and New England), and will soon begin work on a plan for the Vikings' third game against the New Orleans Saints.

Ficken typically stands next to Priefer during games, and Priefer -- who said he doesn't know how the Vikings will handle his suspension -- thought the Vikings' decision to wait could indicate an audition for Ficken.

"It could be, and I think Ryan could handle the game," Priefer said. "He and I make decisions a lot, and probably what I'll do more of during the preseason is go ahead and say, 'OK, what are you thinking here, Ryan?' (If) there's plenty of time in advance, we're in a TV timeout or something's going on so it's not a rush situation and he has a couple seconds to think about it, (I'll say), 'Hey, what would you do in this situation?'

"He's pretty on top of it. He's a smart guy. He works hard. As you know, special teams is a lot of situational football, and that's the biggest challenge for any special teams coordinator, especially in the preseason with so many bodies going in and out."

Priefer can still coach through the preseason, and he said he wants to see wide receivers Adam Thielen and Kain Colter, as well as running back Jerick McKinnon, returning kicks before the start of the season. The Vikings are trying to determine a backup kick returner for wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who figures to take on a bigger role in the offense this season, and Priefer said Patterson would likely return only one or two kicks in the preseason.

Vikings wake-up call: Day 5

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
MANKATO, Minn. -- Setting up the day at Minnesota Vikings training camp:

Today's schedule: After a day off, the Vikings are back on their normal schedule today at Minnesota State. They will hold a morning walk-through from 10:30-11:30, and their afternoon practice will run from 3:30-5:10. Coach Mike Zimmer is scheduled to talk to reporters after the morning walk-through.

More observations from Monday's practice:
  • Sanford
    Safety Jamarca Sanford was back to getting some first-team snaps, after he had mostly been working out with the second team in the first part of camp. Zimmer has spoken highly of Robert Blanton, who has made the most of his time with the first team while Sanford sat out the Vikings' spring program with a pulled muscle, and at the moment, Blanton would seem to have the inside track on a job next to his former Notre Dame teammate, Harrison Smith. But Sanford, who has been the starter the past two seasons, appears healthy enough to make a bid for the job. We'll see how much more time he gets this week with the first team.
  • For all the times Marcus Sherels is forgotten because of his small stature, the cornerback keeps coming back to assert himself in training camp, year after year. He had a textbook pass breakup during individual drills, and after an outstanding season as the Vikings' punt returner in 2013, he appears to be well ahead of any challengers for that job. "He has gotten better every year," special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. "Every year we have taken a little bit, I don’t want to say more chances, but we have been a little bit more aggressive with him every year and we are going to continue to do so this year."
  • Undrafted free agent Kain Colter is fighting for one of the Vikings' receiver spots after playing quarterback in college, and he showed his athletic ability early in Monday night's practice, leaping to make a one-handed catch in the back of the end zone during a red-zone drill.
What I'm watching: The Vikings activated Captain Munnerlyn from the physically-unable-to-perform list, and should get him back on the practice field on Wednesday. I'm curious to see how they will work him into their defense; he has been adamant that he will start at cornerback in the base defense, rather than just playing in the slot in the nickel package, but Josh Robinson looks more comfortable now that he is on the outside again. The Vikings might have to ease Munnerlyn into practice once they do get him back, but how they use him in the next week or so will give us an idea of whether he is going to be playing in their base defense as well as their sub packages. The guess here is Munnerlyn will wind up with the starting spot.

They said it: "Everson is a very difficult person to replace. He is such a great athlete. I think Scott has the size; he is not quite the athlete that Everson is, but he is a bigger guy. We will be able to utilize him in lot of different phases. I am excited about working with him, and again, Everson is a very tough person to replace athletically, but I think Scott will be doing some of the things that Everson did when he was playing special teams." -- Priefer, on the possibility of using rookie defensive end Scott Crichton to replace Everson Griffen on special teams now that Griffen is starting at right end.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Between now and the Minnesota Vikings' first training camp practice July 25, we will break down each position group.

We'll look at the wide receivers next.

Returning players: Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, Rodney Smith, Adam Thielen.

Gone from last season: Joe Webb

New this season: Kain Colter (undrafted free agent, Northwestern), Erik Lora (undrafted free agent, Eastern Illinois), Dante Foster (undrafted free agent, Ohio), Kamar Jordan (reserve/future free agent), Josh Cooper (free agent from Cleveland).

Position coach: George Stewart (eighth season)

Biggest issue: Only 12 teams targeted their wideouts less often than the Vikings did last year, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The group will be asked to carry a bigger load on offense last year (the Cleveland Browns' receivers had the sixth-most targets in the league in 2013 with Norv Turner as their coordinator), and that means the Vikings need players like Jarius Wright (who caught 26 passes last year) to make bigger contributions. And they're pinning plenty of hope on a breakout season from Cordarrelle Patterson, who made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner, scored three touchdowns as a running back and will be asked to take on a more significant role as a receiver this year.

Player to watch: It's no stretch to suggest the Vikings want Patterson to become one of the league's dominant playmakers this season, after the work Norv and Scott Turner did with Josh Gordon in Cleveland last year. Patterson primarily lined up at split end last season, but will be asked to play a number of different receiver positions this year as the Vikings try to take advantage of his sublime speed and vision. Another player to watch is Adam Thielen, whom general manager Rick Spielman said had made a noticeable leap forward from his first season on the practice squad. The Minnesota State product will return to his alma mater for training camp, where he'll try to win one of the final spots at wide receiver.

Medical report: The Vikings don't have many injury concerns at the position coming into the season; their receivers were healthy all spring, and of their top four wideouts, only Jennings missed a game last year.

Help wanted: Minnesota could carry six receivers on the roster headed into the season, which might leave space for players like Thielen and undrafted rookie Kain Colter.

Quotable: "I think from day one to now he’s improved as a route runner," Norv Turner said of Patterson. "He’s been very serious about working as a route runner. I think George Stewart has done a great job with him, the details of running routes. He’s so explosive when he comes off the ball the way he’s capable of coming off the ball. He creates problems for defensive backs. I think he’s made great strides. We have a lot of work to do when we come back and start again in July. The defense has changed, you see a lot more press, bump-and-run coverages when you get into training camp when you have pads on. I think he’s a good example of where our guys are. I love his talent."

Vikings sign Josh Cooper

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings added another receiver to their depth chart on Friday, and this one should already be well-versed in Norv Turner's offense.

They signed former Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Cooper, a day after waiving injured receiver Lestar Jean. Cooper spent 2012 and 2013 with the Browns, catching nine passes last season while Turner was the offensive coordinator. Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner was Cooper's position coach last season in Cleveland, as well, and his familiarity with the Vikings' system should help him jump into the team's minicamp next week, likely as a slot receiver.

Time will tell whether that familiarity will help Cooper earn a spot on the Vikings' roster. The team is well-stocked at the position, with Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright likely accounting for four spots, and Cooper could have to battle practice squad holdovers Rodney Smith and Adam Thielen, as well as undrafted free agent Kain Colter, for a job. The work Cooper has already done with the Turners, though, means the coaches were able to vouch for him, and he could be worth watching in training camp.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A quick look at the highlights of the Minnesota Vikings' third open OTA of the offseason on Wednesday afternoon:

1. Yankey returns: Fifth-round pick David Yankey, who finished his last final exam at Stanford and caught a red-eye flight to join the Vikings on Wednesday, became the first of the team's three draft picks on the quarters system to rejoin the Vikings. UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton will both be with the team for its mandatory minicamp next week, but Yankey was able to return in time to get some extra work with offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, who stayed on the field well after the end of practice to run his rookie linemen through additional drills.

2. Sherels in the nickel: Cornerback Marcus Sherels saw some work in the Vikings' first-team nickel package, playing left cornerback while Captain Munnerlyn moved inside. Kendall James and Shaun Prater also saw some time at slot cornerback on second- and third-team defense, where Munnerlyn would normally play. Josh Robinson was still out nursing an injury on Wednesday, and Derek Cox, who had an interception during last week's open OTA, didn't see much time on Wednesday.

3. Rhodes steps up: Xavier Rhodes had an impressive interception during an 11-on-11 drill, stepping in front of a Matt Cassel throw on a quick hitch route. Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray yelled, "It's about time!" when Rhodes showed the instincts to jump the route, and for as solid as Rhodes was in press coverage toward the end of last season, he's still learning when he can take some chances and bite on a route. It's part of the development process for any young cornerback, but Rhodes had eight interceptions in three years at Florida State, so there is reason to think he can create some turnovers as he figures things out in the NFL. "I'm impressed," coach Mike Zimmer said. "He wants to be very good. He's got great acceleration, learning the techniques and staying on point better."

4. Struggle for QBs: After both Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater looked sharp in last week's open OTA, each of them had a rougher day on Wednesday. Cassel had his final throw batted down in 11-on-11 work, and Bridgewater was intercepted by Dom DeCicco on a pass over the middle. The rookie also was sacked a couple times during a blitz drill, and missed three of his four throws. The Vikings' defense was using a number of different looks on Wednesday, though, and it seemed clear that the offense was trying to digest a number of new concepts while facing a more nuanced defense. Days like Wednesday are part of the growing pains in a new system. Christian Ponder didn't get as much work as Cassel or Bridgewater, but he actually made some nice throws, hitting Jarius Wright on a throw over the middle in a receiver-vs.-cornerback drill and connecting with Kain Colter on a long pass off a broken play during a two-minute drill.

5. Safety rotation: With Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo still out with injuries, the Vikings rotated through a number of safeties on Wednesday, with Robert Blanton getting much of the first-team work alongside Harrison Smith.

6. Hodges in nickel: Linebacker Gerald Hodges joined Chad Greenway in the Vikings' top nickel package for a handful of snaps, as the team waits to work in Barr once he returns from school next week. The Vikings are trying a number of different players in various spots (rookie Brandon Watts also got some nickel snaps), but the nickel package could represent an opportunity for Hodges, who has the quickness to play in passing situations.

7. A healthier team: One of Zimmer's first initiatives was to get high-fat items out of the team's cafeteria and to change the Vikings' weight program, and he said on Wednesday it's been working. The Vikings, Zimmer said, have lost 170 pounds of fat and gained 70 pounds of muscle during their offseason program.

8. Sullivan away for wedding -- and Birk returns: Center John Sullivan, who is getting married this weekend, was gone on Wednesday, but will return for mini-camp next week. His predecessor, former Vikings center Matt Birk, returned to take in practice on Wednesday. Birk, who lost 75 pounds after he retired from the Baltimore Ravens, has been touting his steps to better health since his career ended after Super Bowl XLVII.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Of the 16 undrafted free agents the Minnesota Vikings signed last month, they reserved the biggest signing bonus for the most prominent name on the list.

Wide receiver Kain Colter, whose efforts to help college players unionize while he was the quarterback at Northwestern, got an $8,000 bonus from the Vikings after signing with the team in May, according to ESPN Stats and Information. That is the largest bonus the Vikings paid to any undrafted free agent, and it matches the top bonus the team gave out last year, to Southern Methodist fullback Zach Line.

Eight other Vikings undrafted free agents got bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, but Colter's was easily the largest. NFL teams had $80,362 to spend on signing bonuses for undrafted free agents this year, and they could spend as much or as little as they chose. The Vikings have spent just $26,000 of their budget this year, after doling out $64,500 last year. All undrafted free agents get three-year contracts with non-guaranteed base salaries of $420,000, $510,000 and $600,000 in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Former Iowa guard Conor Boffeli, who was released by the team on May 19, got the second-biggest bonus during his short stay with the Vikings, at $4,000.

The receiver has had little interest in talking about his activism since he joined the Vikings, saying he wanted to concentrate on football now that he was in the NFL, and the bonus offers some indication the Vikings see potential in his ability to stick on the roster among their other undrafted free agents. Teddy Bridgewater connected with him on an impressive touchdown pass in a 7-on-7 drill during the team's open OTA last Thursday, and Colter could have some potential as a return man, as well.

Here is the full list of the Vikings' signing bonuses for the 16 undrafted free agents they signed, according to ESPN Stats and Information data:

WR Kain Colter: $8,000

G Conor Boffeli $4,000 (released)
DE Rakim Cox: $3,000
DE Tyler Scott: $2,500
TE AC Leonard: $2,500
G Austin Wentworth: $2,000
WR Erik Lora: $1,500
T Matt Hall: $1,500
WR Donte Foster: $1,000

QB Travis Partridge $1,000 (released)
RB Dominique Williams: $1,000
T Antonio Richardson: No bonus
C Zac Kerin: No bonus
T Pierce Burton: No bonus
DE Jake Snyder: No bonus
DT Isame Faciane: No bonus
MINNEAPOLIS -- It will be months, if not longer, before we have a complete idea of where Teddy Bridgewater is at in his development as a NFL quarterback. But in an interview after his impressive showing at the Vikings' organized team activity on Thursday, Bridgewater offered a hint that he already understands an important key to success in the pros.

Bridgewater went 9-for-9 in the Vikings' first 11-on-11 period on Thursday, taking one sack but connecting with Adam Thielen on a couple of tough throws against tight coverage. In a 7-on-7 drill red zone drill, he hit a couple of corner routes to Kain Colter and Thielen, and connected with Jarius Wright on a long pass during his two-minute drill. Afterward, when asked about his biggest challenge so far, he said this:

"The biggest challenge is just anticipating throws. In college, open was 10 feet. Now in the NFL, open can be just a couple of inches. So just being more decisive, anticipating throws more and I feel like I’m doing a great job learning from Matt (Cassel) and Christian (Ponder). Also, (quarterbacks) coach (Scott) Turner has been teaching me to throw it on time, trust your feet and everything will happen."

Any Vikings fan who's spent the last three years watching Ponder knows Bridgewater hit on a central trait of being an effective NFL quarterback. One of Ponder's biggest hindrances has been his inability to make throws into tight windows, or to trust himself enough to try them. Bridgewater completed 68.4 percent of his passes in college (compared to 61.8 percent for Ponder), and turned himself into a first-round pick by being one of the more accurate passers in the draft, so the Vikings have reason to be confident in his ability to hit tough throws. The job will ultimately require Bridgewater to be confident enough in himself to put the ball just beyond defenders, but he seemed to have little hesitation about doing that on Thursday. It's dangerous to assume too much before Bridgewater is throwing in live games, but the Vikings have to be encouraged by signs that their first-round pick is able -- and willing -- to make some of the throws that gave their last first-round QB trouble.

"I thought Teddy did a nice job in the 2-minute situation, had a nice long ball there, took them down and scored," coach Mike Zimmer said. "He left for those two days (for a NFL rookie marketing event in Los Angeles last week), he was a little rusty when he came back, (but) he’s picked it up these last two days, so he’s doing well."

Vikings rookie camp primer

May, 16, 2014
May 16
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings continue their rookie camp Friday at their facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., getting their first chance to work with their 10 draft picks, 15 undrafted free agents and more than a dozen players from around the region who will receive tryouts.

Friday is the only day of media access to the Vikings' rookie camp. Here are a few things I'm particularly interested in seeing:

Bridgewater's debut: The Vikings are getting their first extended chance to coach first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater, and in light of how well the former Louisville quarterback responded to a little coaching at his private workout (according to general manager Rick Spielman), I'll be curious to see how he looks in his initial trips through the Vikings' playbook. He won't have any of the receivers he'll eventually be working with -- he'll be able to start throwing to them in the coming weeks -- but Friday will offer the first glimpse into Bridgewater's early development as a NFL quarterback.

Competition at corner: The Vikings didn't add a defensive back in the draft until the sixth round, and the three they drafted in the final two rounds (Virginia Tech safety Antone Exum, Maine cornerback Kendall James and North Carolina cornerback Jabari Price) will have to fight for roster spots. But Spielman sounded optimistic about James (who called himself an "all-around great cover corner" in a conference call with reporters), and Exum could be an intriguing fit at safety. He's big and physical enough to play the position, but the Vikings also want to be able to do some of what we've seen Seattle do with their safeties, putting them in coverage against inside receivers and allowing their linebackers to stay on the field in passing situations. Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray talked about that with Harrison Smith last month, and Spielman mentioned that as a possibility for Exum, too. "What is intriguing about him, as we sit there and talk with our coaches, is that they also want guys at the safety position that can be cover guys," Spielman said. "This was kind of a unique player for us because he is physical on support. He has played corner, but because of his size and his physicality in the run game we feel he can maybe transition to safety."

Breaking in Barr: Linebacker Anthony Barr's pass-rushing skills are what earned him headlines at UCLA, but the Vikings wouldn't have taken him ninth overall if they didn't think he could be a complete linebacker that can stay on the field for three downs. He's only been at linebacker for two years after switching from the running back position, and has shown good instincts at the position, but he'll need to get stronger and refine his technique at the NFL level. That begins this weekend, and as much as coach Mike Zimmer pays attention to details on defense, he'll likely spend plenty of time with Barr. "It’s not that he is so raw that he is not a good football player, because he is a really good football player," Zimmer said. "I don’t want anybody to think that because he is inexperienced that he is not a good football player. He will be good. I’m excited about the chance to take him and mold him into what I really envision him to be, which I think will be good."

Target at tight end: Tennessee State tight end AC Leonard, whom the Vikings signed as an undrafted free agent, has the athletic ability to be an interesting option in Norv Turner's offense. He's only 6-foot-2 and 252 pounds, and could get swallowed up by defensive ends, but his 40 time (4.50), high jump (34 inches) and broad jump (128 inches) were the best of any tight end at the NFL scouting combine. Leonard played all over the field in college, and though he'll need plenty of work, both on and off the field (he was arrested for misdemeanor battery in 2012 and cited for driving with a suspended license three months later), his athletic ability could keep him around for an extended look.

Garoppolo's receiver tries to catch on: You'll hear plenty of talk about former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, who signed with the Vikings as a receiver after leading the efforts for Northwestern players to unionize, but of the Vikings' three undrafted receiver additions, former Eastern Illinois receiver Erik Lora might have the best chance of sticking around. He caught 136 passes in 2012, setting a FCS record as Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite target, and scored 19 touchdowns in 2013. He's only 5-foot-10, and will have to show he can produce against better competition -- and in a more complex offense than he had in college -- but Lora might have potential as a slot receiver.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- With the 2014 NFL draft over, the Minnesota Vikings got to work on Saturday evening, signing a group of undrafted free agents to join the 10 players they took in the draft.

The Vikings announced they had agreed with 15 undrafted free agents as of Saturday night, though the players still have to pass physicals before they'll be able to participate in the team's rookie camp next week. The most prominent name in the group is former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, who led the effort of Northwestern players to form a union and argue that they should receive the basic rights of employees.

If all 15 players' contracts are finalized, the Vikings would have 93 players under contract, and would need to make several roster moves to get down to the NFL's 90-contract limit.

"There are guys on the bottom end of our roster," general manager Rick Spielman said. "We feel some of these college free agents are going to have a chance to come in and compete and then there may be a couple roster moves to make sure we get to 90 players. The draft picks are going to count because this goes up to 90 players but our college free agents won’t sign their contracts till they get in. Once they get in and pass their physicals, will then make sure we are at 90 players where we need to be."

Here is the full list of players to agree to terms with the Vikings:

AC Leonard, TE, Tennessee State

Kain Colter, WR, Northwestern

Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee

Zac Kerin, C, Toledo

Pierce Burton, OT, Mississippi

Matt Hall, OT, Belhaven

Austin Wentworth, OG Fresno State

Isame Faciane, NT, Florida International

Dominique Williams, HB, Wagner

Jake Snyder, DE, Virginia

Erik Lora, WR, Eastern Illinois

Tyler Scott, DE, Northwestern

Donte Foster, WR, Ohio

Rakim Cox, DE, Villanova