Jalen Reagor, the reserve wide receiver who the Vikings acquired almost a year ago in a trade with the Eagles, is on the spot as he prepares in training camp for his fourth NFL season. There is no guarantee he will make the final roster and even if he does this is the final year of his contract, with free agency ahead in 2024.
Reagor is receiving opportunities in the preseason. He is tied with tight end Nick Muse for most receptions on the team with six. His 65 yards in catches is tops on the Vikings.
August is the time for the 24-year-old former first round draft choice to prove his value and set the stage for what he hopes will be a breakout season even though it will likely be as a sub behind starters Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn and Jordan Addison.
“Last year I got here the week of the first game, so it was kind of hard to adjust but having a full offseason, you know, (with) K.O. and the guys helping me I feel pretty good,” Reagor told Sports Headliners.
K.O, head coach Kevin O’Connell, is an offensive guru with a talented group of playmakers including the peerless Jefferson, veteran Osborn and promising rookie Addison. The wide receiver roster includes four former first round draft choices in Jefferson, Addison, Reagor and N’Keal Harry.
The talent in the WR room is a plus to Reagor. “It just breeds competition,” he said.
Reagor’s value to the Vikings includes his speed. He can “take the top off defenses” and he said there might not be anyone on the roster who could motor faster in the 40-yard dash. “There’s not many receivers (in the NFL) that can run like I can,” he said. “I feel like that’s what I bring to the game, and then being able to do the in between stuff, the reverses, the tosses, the little trick stuff and be a complete receiver. So I feel like all around (talent).”
Reagor’s versatility could work in his favor in being able to make the team. He has 18 career rushes for 83 yards. He also returned both punts and kickoffs for the Eagles. With the Vikings last season, he returned 26 punts for 167 yards in 17 games.
Critics have said the 5-11, 197-pound former TCU star is slowed in his routes by physical defenders and that he doesn’t block effectively. The Eagles, who drafted him in 2020 ahead of Minnesota selecting Jefferson, gave up on him when they made the August 31 trade to the Vikings in return for draft choices.
This summer Jefferson was voted by his NFL peers as the No. 2 player in the league behind only quarterback Patrick Mahomes from the Chiefs. Although Jefferson is 24 also and entering his fourth NFL season, Reagor said he can learn from the team’s superstar receiver.
“Being No. 2 (ranked) as a receiver, that’s just like a receiver winning the Heisman (Trophy),” Reagor said. “He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. I am proud of him. It’s good to be on the team with him and watch and learn from him every day.”
The Vikings could have an explosive offense, just like last season. With a wide receiver group that wants to be the best in the NFL, a deep tight end roster, five returnees in the offensive line, a quality quarterback in Kirk Cousins and veteran running back in Alexander Mattison, the Vikings will score impressively like they did in 2022 when they won 11 one-score games and averaged 24.9 points per game.
Minnesota seemingly took a page from the NBA with a “if we have the ball last, we’ll win” approach while pulling out six fourth quarter wins. No wonder Reagor said if his offense has the last possession in a tight game “it’s going to be a problem.”
And he hopes to be part of the solution this fall.
The Athletic asked its NFL writers to vote on the best stadiums in the league and U.S. Bank Stadium is No. 1. “This wasn’t even close,” Jon Machota wrote in an article posted yesterday by the Athletic. “Half of the voters placed it No. 1 in their rankings.”
SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles ranked second, with Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, third. AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and Lumen Field in Seattle rounded out the top five.
Gopher senior safety Tyler Nubin is receiving a lot of preseason hype. Publicity includes second team (The Athletic) and third team (Phil Steele) All-American recognition, and listings on watch lists for three prestigious national awards honoring defensive players: Chuck Bednarik, Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski.
Nubin admits the attention “is cool” but tempers his enthusiasm. “It doesn’t really matter because like you said it’s preseason so it’s just a guess. I have to go out there and perform. …”
Nubin will be a playmaker and leader for the Gophers’ defense. So, too, will redshirt junior linebacker Cody Lindenberg. “It’s great to see his growth for sure,” Nubin said.
Lindenberg brings the “juice” to practices. “His energy, you can really feel it,” Nubin said.
Gophers’ multi-positional offensive lineman Nathan Boe, now in his sixth year with the program, comes from a family that has long followed Minnesota football including during its glory days. When coach P.J. Fleck was recruiting Boe out of Lakeville North the coach told him the Gophers were a “sleeping giant.”
That resonated with Boe whose grandfather and great grandfather listened to the Gophers on the radio. Boe said: “We have a long tradition here and it’s really fun to be part of it. …”
North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, who the Gophers face in Chapel Hill September 16, is the No. 5 player in college football, per ESPN.com who rated the top 100. Notre Dame tackle Joe Alt, the Totino-Grace alum and North Oaks resident, is No. 11 on the list. Former Gopher running back Bucky Irving, who gained over 1,000 yards last season for Oregon, is No. 77.
The Twins open a two-game series in Milwaukee tonight against a Brewers team that is No. 10 in the MLB.com power rankings. The Twins are No. 13 in the latest rankings.
Trevor May, who pitched for the Twins from 2014-2020, has 12 saves while holding opponents to a .220 batting average this season with the Athletics. Will the Twins have interest in signing the 33-year-old right hander as a free agent in the offseason? He makes $7 million with Oakland, per Spotrac.com and is the highest paid player on the budget conscious team’s roster.
The Northwoods League, that includes teams from Minnesota and showcases college baseball players in the summer, set a new attendance record with a total of 1,313,916. The old record was 1, 262, 610 set in 2019.
Wild preseason and regular season tickets go on sale Thursday, with availability via Wild.com/tickets and Ticketmaster.com.