The Vikings don’t have enough starting-caliber quarterbacks available because of coronavirus protocols. At the same time, the organization now employs six quarterbacks. It’s an odd situation as training camp is nearly a week old.
And that has dominated most of the Vikings headlines — the fallout of Kellen Mond contracting COVID and those players in his direct orbit that were forced to distance for five days.
Here are the other notable takeaways from Day Six of the Vikings 2021 training camp.
1. The Fall of Jeff Gladney
In April, cornerback Jeff Gladney was arrested for the alleged assault of his girlfriend in Texas. The details of the case are particularly brutal. For four months, Gladney remained on the Vikings roster, albeit in name-only as he never participated in training camp.
His career with the Vikings ended on Tuesday. The 24-year-old was formally indicted by a grand jury, and the Vikings front office had seen enough.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 3, 2021
From a football standpoint, Minnesota has a plethora of starting corners with Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, Bashaud Breeland, and Mackensie Alexander. To adhere to a high moral standard, the team severed ties with Gladney, ending his tenure with the Vikings after one season.
If another NFL team signs Gladney, he will likely head to the Commissioner’s Exempt List, canceling his opportunity to play in 2021. A trial awaits Gladney while his attorney attests to his innocence.
Jeff Gladney’s agent @boverstreet1 has released the following statement, saying in part: “The Vikings did what they thought was best for their organization which we respect, but we still strongly believe in Jeff Gladney’s innocence.”
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/swZLoYifyq
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) August 3, 2021
2. Oli Udoh Still Looks the Part
The most fascinating thing to monitor with Udoh’s reps at training camp and in preseason games: Is this the last hurrah where the Vikings are trying to see “what they have” in Udoh before a release? Minnesota did a similar tactic with Aviante Collins — and he no longer wears purple and gold clothes.
Or — is Udoh a serious contender for the 2021 right guard position? General Manager Rick Spielman drafted Wyatt Davis for that job, but he’s been hobbled with an ankle malady early in training camp. Insert Udoh.
The Elon alumnus is receiving first-team playing time in Eagan. That’s interwoven with Dakota Dozier, but nevertheless, Udoh seemingly came out of nowhere to possibly land the RG1 gig. The tape confirms his progress.
Another excellent rep from Oli Udoh (#74) vs. Dalvin Tomlinson (#94). pic.twitter.com/jTYe5YCh0V
— Vikes (@vikesinsider) August 3, 2021
Most Vikings brains believe that rookie Christian Darrisaw will start his training camp experience early next week. If he’s the tried-and-true LT1 for 2021, that leaves RG1 as the only mystery on the offensive line. Udoh is positioning himself nicely for a reasonable chance at the job.
3. Cameron Smith, not Nick Vigil, Getting LB Reps with Starters
The Vikings lone linebacker acquisition via free agency was the addition of Nick Vigil from the Los Angeles Chargers. Vigil didn’t get too much action in Los Angeles, but he did see 92% of all defensive snaps with the 2019 Cincinnati Bengals. There, he accrued 111 tackles in a single season — pretty commendable volume for a linebacker.
So, most depth chart projections assume Vigil will be the third linebacker next to Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr.
But maybe that’s too pretentious. Cameron Smith — the player that underwent open-heart surgery in 2020 — took snaps with the first team on Tuesday. Perhaps he’s the dark horse for what was presumed Vigil’s job to lose.
Smith, 24, was a 5th-Round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Just like Udoh, the Vikings could be giving him an extended look for diligence. We shall see.
4. COVID Talking Points Aplenty
The Vikings were ‘announced’ on Tuesday as the NFL’s lowest team per number of players vaccinated.
On the same day we learn the #Vikings have an embarrassing team vaccination rate of 65%, lowest in the NFL, their 2020 first-rd draft pick is indicted on horrifying domestic violence charges and released.
Tough day to be a fan of the Purple.
— Nick Nelson (@NickNelsonMN) August 3, 2021
That title was previously assigned to the Washington Football Team, but that organization [somehow] raised its percentage to 84%. Left up to Mike Zimmer, the Viking will follow suit.
But that’s easier said than done as Zimmer noted yesterday that the unvaccinated players are particularly “dug in,” avoiding the medicinal measure specifically designed to combat the pandemic. The personal choice aspect of a medical procedure has confronted the team element of football — and the Vikings feel like Ground Zero for the debate.
The headlines will subside once Cousins, Kellen Mond, and Nate Stanley return this week. But any other vaccine-related absences will reignite the controversy, conceivably at any time during the 2021 season.