5 Vikings players facing a make-or-break training camp in 2021

(Photo by Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports) Stephen Weatherly
(Photo by Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports) Stephen Weatherly /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Sheldon Richardson /

Sheldon Richardson – DL

The return of Sheldon Richardson could reap some instant rewards for the Vikings. His versatility and ability to dominate along the defensive front could get this unit over the hump and into the elite category once again with the other weapons around him.

Richardson reportedly turned down more money from the Cleveland Browns to reunite with Mike Zimmer, which is a further indicator of just how highly the head coach is regarded by those with who he’s worked previously.

His place on the 53-man roster is not in question at training camp. But it is still a hugely important summer for Richardson.

Not only will he need to familiarize himself with new teammates and coaches, but he’ll also need to carve out a role for himself in some capacity.

The Vikings have Dalvin Tomlinson and Michael Pierce projected to start at defensive tackle. Stud defensive end Danielle Hunter also patched things up with the team after a year away with a neck injury, which is another substantial boost for the organization.

As stated previously, Minnesota has some exciting edge rushers vying for playing time, so Richardson might have to settle for a backup role if he cannot do enough to convince the coaching staff he is worth placing opposite Hunter.

This isn’t the worst situation for the Vikings to be in. Depth across their defense was a real issue in 2020, but that won’t be the case this time around.