La Velle's 3-2 Pitch: Three observations and two predictions on Sundays.
. . .
Justin Jefferson already is among the elite pass catchers, and he's in his third season. Adam Thielen is a highly productive veteran. And K.J. Osborn flashed during his second season.
But this is a reminder to not forget about another Vikings receiver in Bisi Johnson, whose rise from the depths of the 2019 draft was interrupted last year when he suffered a season-ending knee injury during camp.
After catching 45 passes for 483 yards over his first two seasons, some felt 2021 would be Johnson's breakout season.
Now 2022 will have to be that year. Johnson is back to bouncing around at practice and is determined to make up for lost time.
"I've been enjoying it," Johnson said. "I've been feeling like myself again, which has been great the last two, three weeks and actually enjoying football."
Getting back that old feeling can't be taken lightly. An injured player is challenged to remain disciplined throughout his or her rehabilitation, trying to reach recovery checkpoints and overcome any setbacks. They are not with their team as much as they are used to, and camaraderie is part of the lifestyle.
And, of course, he's missed a season's worth of games. Johnson was the 247th player selected in the 2019 draft out of Colorado State. He was the last of 28 wide receivers to be selected. He's had to earn his roster spot. When injury takes all of that away, it can be a challenge to remain focused. Johnson said he's had a lot of time to talk about his career with his family and friends while re-evaluating his life.
Being back in camp is a big checkpoint for him. The next one is getting in games.
"I think that was the hardest part," Johnson said. "Not being around the guys. You come in for rehab every day and then, you know, you're not really going to go out there and play. So you don't really go to meetings and you don't really get to build a relationship with these guys like you want to, like you used to.
"You've got to ease into it, see how you're feeling around the guys and everything around the team. But everybody welcomed me again with welcomed arms and it's been great."
Johnson might have fallen into a better situation with Kevin O'Connell as head coach. There's an expected spike in three-receiver formations, given his Rams roots. There could be more opportunities for Johnson to show he can pick up where he left off in 2000. If he's healthy, there's no reason he can't.
Another miss by the Twins?
Apologies to veteran Twins followers if you become nauseated by reading this.
Righthander Dylan Bundy gave up four runs in four innings to the Yankees on Thursday and is 3-3 with a 5.87 ERA through 10 starts. The Twins have lost each of the past seven games he has started. The hardworking veteran might be the latest low-risk, no-reward starting pitcher the club has signed over the years.
It was just last season when the Twins released Matt Shoemaker after 16 outings and an 8.06 ERA. He was 2-6 with a 5.90 ERA through 10 starts, eerily like Bundy's.
The list of pitchers the Twins have taken fliers on over the years — Jason Marquis, Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson and Sean Bergman are a few — is a lengthy and grotesque one. At least the Twins have been willing to cut their losses when these signings don't work out. With the club in contention in the AL Central, they might be nearing a similar decision on Bundy once other starters get healthy..
Lynx must improvise
The Lynx suffered a blow when Sylvia Fowles aggravated a knee injury. If it's only two weeks, the Lynx can improvise while the center is out and get healthy in time to make a push for the postseason.
This is predicated on how quickly forward Damiras Dantas, finally recovered from a Lisfranc injury, can knock the rust off and start knocking down threes. Rachel Banham and Bridget Carelton can also help from the perimeter.
If Fowles misses two weeks, that's about six games. There will be 18 games remaining in the season at that point, enough time for the 3-9 Lynx to heat up and push for a playoff spot. If Napheesa Collier, who recently had her first baby, can get game-ready and meet her goal to join Fowles for her final season, making the playoffs can't be ruled out.
... AND TWO PREDICTIONS ...
Loons can't find the net
With just 15 goals in 14 games, it's obvious that the Loons' attack does not exist. Look for them to set a club record for fewest goals scored in a 34-game season, which currently is 42, set last season.
Alcantara an old-school workhorse
Marlins righthander Sandy Alcantara has thrown 83⅔ innings over 12 starts and will be the only pitcher in baseball to throw more than 200 innings this season.