Updated: July 31st, 2014 6:32pm
Notebook: Greg Jennings' head spinning a little less in Norv's offense

Notebook: Greg Jennings' head spinning a little less in Norv's offense

by Andrew Krammer
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1500 ESPN's Purple Podcast episode 2: Camp observations and Adam Thielen
The second episode of 1500 ESPN’s Purple Podcast with Andrew Krammer, Derek Wetmore, Judd Zulgad and Phil Mackey. It includes an Adam Thielen interview, including telling him that he’s the early leader in the clubhouse for #MrMankato. He’s got a decent shot to earn a spot on the Vikings roster as a wide receiver and special teams player, after spending time on the practice squad last season. He played college in Mankato and now is hoping to earn his stripes in training camp on the same fields. --- Before the interview, Andrew was asked about his observations during practices and walk-throughs: How is the linebacker situation playing out? Is Chad Greenway really in consideration for the middle linebacker position? Or is he a better candidate for the weakside? How will Jasper Brinkley fit? Is he the starting MLB? How does Anthony Barr fit and what do you envision will be his role? --- We’ve seen a strange package with Harrison Smith this weekend at practice—what do you read into that? How does Everson Griffen fit in? An observation about Griffen going head-to-head with Matt Kalil. --- Norv Turner on Saturday brought up Matt Asiata as one of the most impressive players he’s seen in the early part of camp. Should we read into that? What do the coaches think of Jerick McKinnon? How will he fit on the team?
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MANKATO, Minn. - Greg Jennings has spent most of his nine-year career playing in a West Coast-style offense.

So when offensive coordinator Norv Turner took over the controls, Jennings admitted his 'head is spinning' trying to comprehend the different formations and variations that can stem from a single play call.

After nearly one week of training camp, Jennings' head is spinning a little less as he addressed the predictability factor that running back Adrian Peterson said hindered the Minnesota Vikings offense in the past.

"We were heavy, heavy, heavy run game," Jennings said. "Now we're going to take a lot more stress off Adrian. He's still going to get a heavy dosage of runs, but I think what Norv brings to the table is a more balanced offense."

That tilted balance on offense, combined with a carousel at quarterback, led to lackluster production to Jennings' typical standard in his first year in Minnesota. The Vikings' 19 interceptions last season were also a career-high for a team with Jennings, which led to him tying a career high with three tackles.

 "One thing I've learned about Norv is he's going to try and expose what everyone does well," Jennings said. "So with that being said, he's going to individually put us in position where he can get us the balls with our best routes, as he calls them."

When Jennings signed with the Vikings, the initial intention by the previous coaching staff was to use him as a flanker. However, he lined up in the slot 65 percent of the snaps last season, per PFF, and Turner wants to use Jennings in a similar fashion - but in a vastly different scheme.

During training camp practices, the Vikings appear to be using two split ends on the field more so than in previous schemes as Jerome Simpson and Cordarrelle Patterson line up on the outside, with Jennings and/or Jarius Wright on the inside.

"[Jennings] obviously has great experience and great understanding," Turner said. "He's in the middle of learning a new system...He has really zeroed in and focused in. He is important to what we do, playing in the slot on third down and then he is a guy that can move around and create some match-ups and things with him, so I like what I've seen."

Mixing and matching

Head coach Mike Zimmer has mixed and matched his defensive players with different units throughout the six days of training camp so far.

On Thursday, defensive tackle Tom Johnson saw some reps with the first-team defense at the three technique, while Antone Exum, Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond all worked alongside Harrison Smith at times.

"We are trying to get the best guys on the field in each situation," Zimmer said. "So we're looking at a lot of different guys. Greenway is playing the Mike backer some in the nickel, [Anthony] Barr is playing the dime, he's playing some defensive end some in the nickel, he's playing a rusher some in the nickel. [Gerald] Hodges is playing the dime some, we're moving Brandon Watts to the Mike linebacker some in the nickel.

"Really it's just about figuring out what guys can do. The more you can do the more value you have to this football team."

Injury updates

Josh Robinson (hamstring) returned to practice after leaving early on Wednesday.

Captain Munnerlyn (hamstring) was a full participant for the first time after he was activated off the PUP on Wednesday. Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes worked as the first-team base cornerbacks.

Robert Blanton (hamstring) continued to sit out as he's reportedly sidelined for a 'few weeks.' Zimmer wouldn't give a timetable for his return when asked on Thursday.

Tight end AC Leonard (headache) sat out Thursday after he left early on Wednesday.

Patterson (foot) was a full participant again in practice. 

Late hits

Xavier Rhodes dropped an interception for the second straight practice when he jumped a Jerome Simpson route that Matt Cassel angled to the sideline.

• Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw the first interception of full contact training camp when linebacker Audie Cole jumped a flat route and took it the other way.

• Cornerback Derek Cox grabbed a second interception off Bridgewater later in team drills when he got the jump on receiver Adam Thielen. Cox also knocked another Bridgewater ball away on a similar play to Thielen.

• Charting quarterback passes on Day 6 of training camp: Cassel 14-for-20, Bridgewater 13-for-17, 2 INTs and Christian Ponder 1-for-2.

• Both Cassel and Bridgewater conducted two-minute drills. Cassel finished 5-for-8 on the drill, ending on a completion to tight end Kyle Rudolph. Bridgewater threw 3-for-5 in his drill, ending with the interception to Cox.

• Patterson, Thielen and Wright all fielded kick returns during special team drills. 

Andrew Krammer covers the Minnesota Vikings for 1500ESPN.com. He previously covered the Gophers men's basketball team for the Minnesota Daily.
Email Andrew | @andrew_krammer