MANKATO, Minn. -- By the time the Minnesota Vikings reported to training camp a year ago, the curiosity surrounding Moritz Bohringer already had been eclipsed, in some ways, by the reality that his chances of making the team's final roster were remote.
The German wide receiver arrived in Minnesota last spring with some fanfare as the first draft pick to reach the NFL without playing college football. It was clear early in the Vikings' offseason program, however, that the Bohringer experiment was going to take time, as he dropped several passes, scrambled to digest an NFL playbook and, in 90-degree heat during his first rookie camp practice, took to the sidelines to vomit.
He wound up on the Vikings' practice squad a year ago, keeping largely to himself in the locker room and spending much of the season in anonymity. But Bohringer kept at it, and as the former sixth-round pick heads into Year 2 with the Vikings, he's showing signs of growth.
"He’s much improved," coach Mike Zimmer said. "His routes are much better; [wide receivers coach] Darrell Hazell is doing a good job with him. He’s catching the ball better and has a better understanding of the offense. He is still a ways away, but he has improved a lot."
Bohringer, Zimmer said, has enough of a handle on the offense to help the team's rookie receivers with it, which is something he couldn't have done a year ago. His English is better, and as such, he's more communicative in practices.
The next step for the 6-foot-4 receiver will come over the weekend when the Vikings begin padded practices and cornerbacks can press receivers.
"Some of it is going to be bump-and-run," Zimmer said. "He’s doing a better job at the top of the route. But the transition from the top of the route to accelerate out, to me, that’s going to be the biggest thing. He’s a little bit of a high-cut guy. He needs to be able to sink his hips and accelerate out. He didn’t catch the ball great last year, so that’s obviously one part. He’s doing a better job with all of it. To me, those two things combined with catching the ball will help."
The Vikings' receiver depth chart is far from set, with Michael Floyd facing a four-game suspension, Laquon Treadwell trying to assert himself after a one-catch rookie season and late-round picks Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley getting acclimated to the offense. The onus likely will remain on Bohringer to impress the Vikings enough to claim a roster spot, especially with players like Adams factoring in as possible kick returners.
But, a year after he began his NFL odyssey, Bohringer seems to be headed in the right direction.
"He's got a chance," Zimmer said.