School is out for the summer and the countdown to camp has begun.
The Vikings wrapped up their offseason workout program last Thursday with the final practice of their three-day minicamp at Winter Park. In all, they had 13 practices, six of them open to media, none in pads.
Here are a dozen takeaways after watching all of those practices and talking to Vikings players and coaches over the past couple of months.
1. You shouldn't rule out Teddy Bridgewater getting cleared to return at some point in 2017. The most surprising development of the spring was the fourth-year quarterback throwing to uncovered receivers in front of the media after doing so behind closed doors earlier in the offseason workout program. Videos of Bridgewater chucking passes 40 yards down the field and attacking his on-field rehab have gotten the fan base all worked up, and rightfully so. Maybe, just maybe, we will see Bridgewater make an astonishing comeback at some point this season. But he still has a ways to go before he gets the green light to return to tackle football. His surgically-repaired left knee must hold up after dropback after dropback and then during full contact for the Vikings to know he is all the way back.
2. Dalvin Cook is really fast. He caught our attention when he blew by people in rookie minicamp, but he should be able to outrun a bunch of undrafted dudes. He really impressed last week, when he got loose down the right sideline and out-sprinted cornerback Xavier Rhodes, a fast long-strider in the open field. Maybe Rhodes would have tripped him up or dragged him down had tackling been allowed. But still, the kid has wheels and will add a needed big-play threat to this offense.
3. Laquon Treadwell looks ready to take on a larger role. The Winter Park hype machine was ratcheted up for Treadwell, perhaps to boost his confidence after the 2016 first-round pick had only one catch as a rookie. But Treadwell, who turned 22 this week, does look quicker, giving hope that he has finally put his past injury issues behind him. Most telling was that Treadwell was exclusively the third wideout alongside Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in the six practices open to media, playing ahead of Michael Floyd and Jarius Wright. Treadwell will get a chance to run away with the important third receiver spot, especially with Floyd in danger of being released following his latest alcohol-related issue.
4. David Morgan is a pain in the butt for defenders. The second-year tight end got praise from coach Mike Zimmer, who said his defenders have raved about his blocking skills. Without much competition for the No. 2 tight end spot, expect Morgan to get a decent-sized workload this season alongside Kyle Rudolph when the Vikings use two-TE sets.
5. Only one starting offensive line spot is up for grabs. In each practice we watched, Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers were the first-team tackles and Alex Boone and Joe Berger were the guards. That suggests that the only undecided spot on the starting line is at center, where third-year lineman Nick Easton got the majority of the snaps over third-round pick Pat Elflein. The battle between those two youngsters this summer should be a fun one to watch. But if both somehow falter, the Vikings could move Berger back to center and plug in somebody else at right guard.
6. The Vikings have great expectations for Danielle Hunter. The freakishly-athletic defensive end, after racking up 12.5 sacks last season as a reserve, is a big breakout candidate this season. He will take over as the starting left defensive end, replacing classy veteran Brian Robison, who stood up in the defensive line meeting room this spring, congratulated Hunter for leaping him on the depth chart and encouraged him to maximize his vast potential. Zimmer figures to unleash Hunter on at least 80 percent of the snaps in 2017 and could have him switch sides with Pro Bowler Everson Griffen at times to toy with offensive tackles.
7. The Vikings may rely on a few players to replace Sharrif Floyd. It does not seem likely that the injured former first-round pick will contribute this season, so the Vikings might have to use a committee approach at the three-technique spot next to nose tackle Linval Joseph. Tom Johnson was the guy this spring, but at his age he is best off as a situational pass rusher. Shamar Stephen and fourth-round pick Jaleel Johnson are vying to play on running downs. Datone Jones, who is still learning the defense and Zimmer's techniques after a few years in Green Bay, is the wild card. If he can pick up the position after being miscast as a linebacker in Green Bay last season, he should get the most snaps.
8. The competition at weak-side linebacker is wide open. Edmond Robinson got most of the first-team reps at Chad Greenway's old spot while Emmanuel Lamur was sidelined early in OTAs. But Lamur was back in the mix two weeks ago and appeared to split the snaps pretty evenly with Robinson during the minicamp. Zimmer also has not ruled out one of their 2016 or 2017 draft picks elbowing their way into the mix.
9. Trae Waynes will be a full-time starter in his third season. Waynes was the man at left cornerback throughout the spring, so barring a major upset, the 2015 first-round pick will finally take the starting job away from 38-year-old Terence Newman. Newman, meanwhile, is jostling with 2016 second-round pick Mackensie Alexander to start in the slot. Of the starting five in the secondary, that's the only open spot right now.
10. Rodney Adams is getting every opportunity to be one of the team's returners. With Cordarrelle Patterson now in Oakland (and getting plenty of praise from Raiders beat writers), the Vikings need a new kick returner. Adams and fourth-year running back Jerick McKinnon appear to be the top candidates. Adams, a fifth-round pick a couple of months ago, got more reps than anyone this spring, plus he fielded a lot of punts, too.
11. Marshall Koehn and Taylor Symmank aren't just camp legs. Koehn has arguably outkicked Kai Forbath and Symmank has more upside than veteran punter Ryan Quigley, who was signed after Jeff Locke left in free agency. What these guys do in training camp will be important, but these leg-related battles will likely be decided in the preseason.
12. Mike Zimmer seems to have had an offseason epiphany. Zimmer has been pretty tight-lipped with the media this spring. But on Thursday, after spring practices wrapped up, Zimmer spoke candidly about doing some soul-searching in the offseason over what he needs to do to become a better head coach. There is no questioning his defensive know-how, from tweaking technique in practice to calling the perfect blitz on Sunday. But the offense struggled in his first three seasons in Minnesota and some of his game-management decisions were questionable. So Zimmer said he has resolved to become a more rounded head coach instead of focusing so much time and energy on his defense. He even said Thursday that he has considered handing over play-calling duties to defensive coordinator George Edwards. The jury is still out on whether Zimmer can become one of the league's top head coaches. But after last season's collapse, it can only be seen as a good thing that Zimmer is open to significant changes.