Minnesota Vikings 2013 training camp primer

USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have a few key defensive battles to look forward to as they enter training camp.

The Minnesota Vikings performed well above their expectations last season, going from having one of the top picks in the 2012 NFL Draft to winning 10 games in the regular season and earning a Wild Card playoff berth. Quarterback Christian Ponder played well, but it was running back Adrian Peterson who really turned heads, rushing for over 2000 yards and coming just short of breaking the NFL's single-season record for rushing yardage.

Ponder was injured in the playoffs and the Vikings couldn't get past the Green Bay Packers, but the Vikings are hoping to once again compete in the NFC North this season. There have been some changes this offseason, however, including a big trade.

Offseason changes

Minnesota got production out of wide receiver Percy Harvin, but he was never happy with the Vikings. The team decided this offseason was the best time to part ways, so they traded him to the Seattle Seahawks for multiple draft picks. This allowed the Vikings to spend big on free agent receiver Greg Jennings, possibly upgrading the position while picking up a first-round draft pick in the process.

Jennings was injured throughout the 2012 season and that's where the concern lies for Minnesota. If Jennings is healthy, then the Vikings probably got better at the receiver position. Minnesota managed to hold on to multiple departing free agents, but Antoine Winfield departed for the Seahawks as well, which is significant given how solid he has been.

Minnesota signed former Detroit Lions cornerback Jacob Lacey, which isn't a strong endorsement given how much their secondary has struggled in recent seasons. The other big change is at the backup quarterback position. The Vikings like Joe Webb, but they converted him to wide receiver and signed Matt Cassel in free agency to be the primary backup for Ponder.

Training camp location and schedule

The Vikings will hold training camp in Mankato, Minn. as they have for the past 48 years. Veterans will report for camp on July 25, but the first practice won't be held until July 26. There are multiple fan-oriented activities at Vikings Village, including autograph sessions and more.

Most of Minnesota's practices will be open to the public free of charge, though there are often fees for parking. The list of special events can be found here, and information on potential autographs can be found here. SB Nation Vikings blog Daily Norseman posted a comprehensive training camp guide here.

Finally, a full schedule of Minnesota's practices can be found here.

Position battles

Outside linebacker: Desmond Bishop could take the weakside linebacker spot, but Marvin Mitchell, Gerald Hodges and Tyrone McKenzie are all vying for a starting job on the outside as well. Bishop is likely to start at one position, but he's really fighting two battles, given that he will ultimately try for a job in the middle, while Erin Henderson is trying to make the move to the middle as well.

Middle linebacker: This one is tied to the outside spot, but it's a bit more significant. Minnesota has willing and proven players to play outside, but thus far, no true middle linebacker, which is why Bishop was signed this offseason. Bishop is likely to win this spot, and if he does, then the outside linebacker battle should fall into place nicely with Henderson, but it will definitely be one to watch throughout camp and preseason.

Nose tackle: It looks like rookie first-round pick Sharrif Floyd won't be used at the nose tackle position, which means last year's starter, Letroy Guion, will be taking on Fred Evans for the starting role this season. Guion made 15 starts last season but hasn't quite locked down the position, while Evans has been all over the line and is probably getting his final opportunity to earn a starting role with this battle.

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