The Minnesota Vikings have their veterans report to training camp on Tuesday, officially marking the end of the slow part of the 2023 offseason.
After months of teamwork and speculation, we finally get to see the group take the field. However, as training camp begins, there are multiple questions about this Vikings team that have yet to be answered. Here’s a look at four big questions heading into camp.
Can CB Byron Murphy stay healthy?
The Minnesota Vikings saw several veterans leave their quarter corners this offseason, and their only big free agency touch to replace production came with the signing of Byron Murphy. Outside of Murphy, the Vikings CB with the most starting experience is Akayleb Evans, who made two starts during his rookie season in 2022.
This means the Vikings will be heavily relying on Murphy to provide veteran leadership to the team on the field. However, the cornerback missed the final eight games of the regular season last year with a back injury.
Minnesota needs him to bounce back and stay healthy this year if his secondary is going to be productive this year. Fortunately, 2022 was the first time Murphy really struggled with injuries, playing 47 of a possible 49 games in his first three NFL seasons before 2022.
What about Danielle Hunter?
After dealing with injuries in both 2020 and 2021 that limited him to just seven total games between the two seasons, Danielle Hunter rebounded in a big way during 2022. The pass-rusher led the team in sacks with 10.5 during the season, and was named a Pro Bowler for the third time in his career.
However, the production of 2022 coupled with such an erratic injury history puts the Vikings in a tough spot. Hunter is currently due to earn $5.5 million in 2023, a very modest amount for someone with his talents.
However, considering the injuries of the previous two years, it makes sense that Minnesota would be a little hesitant to hand the 28-year-old big money. As a result, Hunter did not participate in the mandatory minicamp earlier this offseason, and it remains to be seen if he, too, will be absent when training camp begins today.
When does Justin Jefferson get his extension?
Justin Jefferson has historically been a great wide receiver during his first three NFL seasons, and in 2022, he led the league in both receptions and receiving yards. This offseason, he became eligible for a new contract extension with the Vikings that will likely reset the market at the position when he signs.
However, the question remains, when is the extension done? It doesn’t seem like the contract will stop his desire to play this season, which is a good sign for Minnesota, but the sooner the better for the Vikings to make sure their star receiver stays in the organization for years to come.
Which young Vikings step up?
The Minnesota Vikings fired several veteran players who have led the team for several years. Now, they’re relying on young players, like the six prospects selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Particularly on the defensive side of the ball, there are a few spots in the starting lineup that are wide open, namely at cornerback and linebacker. Then, at the wide receiver position, Minnesota needs first-round pick Jordan Addison to be an immediate partner in the passing game.
Finally, if we take a look at the running back position, there’s little certainty how things will stack up when all is said and done. Alexander Mattison could end up being another leading RB, taking most of the carries, but if Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangwu and DeWayne McBride can show some of their skills in camp, they just might be able to eat the carries.
With uncertainty at so many positions, this is going to be a very important training camp period for Minnesota.
Josh Frey is a graduate of The College of Idaho Class of 2020 and Managing Editor of PurplePTSD.com. When not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, playing, or cheering for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.