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Minnesota Vikings: 6 Players with the Most to Prove Heading into Training Camp

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IJune 1, 2011

Minnesota Vikings: 6 Players with the Most to Prove Heading into Training Camp

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    EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - CIRCA 2010:  In this handout image provided by the NFL,  Bryant McKinnie poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.   (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
    Handout/Getty Images

    The 2011 NFL training camp is fast approaching, and for some members of the Minnesota Vikings, this year’s camp is more than just about making the 52-man roster, it’s about proof.

    Proof that they are better than they have shown thus far and proof that they are worthy of a spot on that roster and can in fact be an impact player in 2012.

    But the NFL can often be a dark chasm of unrelenting fans and coaches that only hand out so many opportunities for redemption.

    The point of this highlight is to also keep in mind that this team, with the right execution, has more than enough talent to enter the postseason, but so much is riding on just some of these players.

    Get your microscope, kids!

Cedric Griffin

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    MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Cedric Griffin #23 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on against the Detroit Lions at Mall of America Field on September 26, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    If the boy stays healthy, he is just as good as anyone in the league.

    But health is what is standing in Griffin’s way right now.

    Griffin has already had two ACL surgeries, which doesn’t usually bode well with cover guys, so he has the world to prove in camp.

    Leslie Frazier has already committed to Griffin retaining his starting role if healthy, but that’s just it, he’ll have to show he can keep up in camp and keep up with the better receivers in the league.

    A strong showing in camp will vastly improve his situation, but it won’t necessarily guarantee anything.

Phil Loadholt

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 05:  Phil Loadholt #71 of the Minnesota Vikings on the sideline against the Buffalo Bills at the Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on December 5, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Gett
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Probably one of the biggest names on this list, Phil Loadholt has a ton to prove and this year has to be the year he does it.

    I’ve watched Loadholt intently since he came to Minnesota; the guy has above-average talent.

    But amidst that talent is a penchant for mediocrity.

    There were games I watched Loadholt utterly dominate, but there are more instances where he was simply man-handled for four quarters.

    And to be honest, not very many players at 6’8”, 343 pounds should be man-handled in the way he was.

    In his defense, Loadholt has dealt with some shoulder issues even in 2010.

    But those days are now supposedly behind him, which means it’s now or never.

    And with a new quarterback in town, this might be the perfect time to blossom.

Bryant McKinnie

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    NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09:  Bryant McKinnie #74 of the Minnesota Vikings at Louisiana Superdome on September 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    “Mount” McKinnie spent most of the 2010 season coming under fire for his highly inconsistent play, and one has to envision the Vikings organization’s patience is wearing thin.

    I have heard his injured finger—back in September of 2010—was a factor.

    I have heard playing 25 pounds overweight last year was a factor, but the reality is, even with these reasons it still comes down to the player.

    The Vikings should’ve brought in someone to compete with McKinnie, but the rumor is, signing Brian Robison to a three deal was a move to give the Vikings insurance and send a message to McKinnie.

    This should be a make-or-break year for him.

Greg Camarillo

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    MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 17:  Greg Camarillo #85 of the Minnesota Vikings plays in game against the Dallas Cowboys at Mall of America Field on October 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Remember this guy, Miami fans? The guy who never dropped a pass and was "Mr. Reliability" over the middle?

    How about you, Vikings fans? The guy who was supposed to come in and help the struggling pass game come alive with his reputation as a sure-handed slot receiver?

    That didn’t go over so well, did it?

    Camarillo is fighting for a job on top of a roster spot, and he has everything to prove that he is still that guy.

    Camarillo is a great situational receiver who does possess above-average talent, but it is up to him to show the staff he is anything but pedestrian.

Everson Griffen

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 14: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears is hit after throwing a pass by Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on November 14, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Vikings 27-13. (Photo by Jonathan Dan
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Griffen is very simple: He needs to show he is not a team liability, plain and simple.

    Between his behavior problems at the end of the season and troubles with the law, Griffen currently shows himself to be more of a liability than an asset.

    But Coach Frazier still believes he can be the impact player they envisioned when they brought him in.

    If Griffen can pull it together, he’ll wind up being an extremely valuable player for the Vikings, but if not, he’ll be unemployed sooner rather than later thanks to a leash that has already been shortened.

Madieu Williams

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 05:  Madieu Williams #20 of the Minnesota Vikings against the Buffalo Bills at the Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on December 5, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Williams has more to prove than anyone on this list, hands down.

    With two back-to-back poor seasons (after suffering a neck injury in 2008), Williams is not only competing in camp for a roster spot, he is competing for a job.

    Leslie Frazier hasn’t given up on him, though, but you also get the notion that they are extending their last opportunity:

    "[He] provides great leadership for us in the secondary," Frazier said this week at the NFL coaches breakfast in New Orleans. "We’d like for him to get his hands on a few more balls [he had one interception in 2010 and has three in three years with the Vikings], but his leadership is probably the thing that really sticks out—just being able to control our secondary, get guys lined up correctly, understanding the system. That’s probably the biggest asset to what we do, and until we have another guy who we think can supplant him in that role, that’s the way it’ll probably be."—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

    Williams has Tyrell Johnson breathing down his neck, and if Johnson beats him out in camp, the Vikings are more than likely not going to keep Williams and his hefty $5.4 million liability salary.

    It’s now or never for Williams.

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