Today, the Minnesota Vikings officially will open training camp in Mankato, and there will be plenty of storylines to follow on offense as chronicled here.
The defense provides even more intrigue and drama for us to follow, however, as there is a surplus of jobs up for grabs across the board. Here is my look at the top five storylines to follow on the defensive side of the football in the coming weeks:
5. The Alan Williams Show
“Hey, Alan, I have a job for you. I want you to come to Minnesota and coach up the defense that, outside of Jared Allen, was atrocious last year. Oh, by the way, I want you to supervise the guy you are replacing and also try to get Singletary to keep his pants on. Thanks, see you soon.”
New defensive coordinator Alan Williams inherited a mess, to be frank, and the unique arrangement of the coaching staff could prove to be a point of drama moving forward. It will be mighty interesting to see how he responds to the challenge and how his players respond to him.
4. Mr. Smith And…
Perhaps no position is as unsettled as the starting safety spot across from presumable starting rookie Harrison Smith. Jamarca Sanford has spent some time there. The Vikings seem to have high hopes for rookie Robert Blanton, who is also out of Notre Dame and has been converted from corner. Mistral Raymond and Andrew Sendejo have both shown some mild promise. Oh, and point guard Nick Taylor is also an interesting one to keep an eye on.
I am excited to see Smith debut, but I worry about that spot across from him.
3. Avoiding Catastrophe At Corner
After arrests, injuries, and poor performance made the Vikings cornerbacks the laughing stock of the NFL in 2011 they decided to stock up on options. Antoine Winfield, Brandon Burton and Marcus Sherels will all return for training camp. Chris Cook, if he can stay out of trouble, stands to be a sure fire starter. Zackary Bowman and Chris Carr were both added during an otherwise quiet free agency period. Josh Robinson was added as a third round, and Bobby Felder is an interesting undrafted guy to keep an eye on.
The depth is there, I guess. Now we just need to see if the talent is there and which guys possess the most of it.
2. No Nose Bleeds, Please
Kevin Williams is sure to be a mainstay on the D-line for at least one more year, but the departure of Pat Williams is still leaving an unsettled feeling for all of us fans. Who is our run stuffer?
All indications are that Letroy Guion and Fred Evans will be duking it out for reps, and if neither establishes themselves as a true starting talent then we will once again be looking at a rotation approach to the position.
Keep an eye on Guion, though. Spielman didn’t give him that hefty extension just to watch him ride the bench.
1. On The Brink
We all know that Jasper Brinkley will have every opportunity in the world to “win” the starting job at middle linebacker. While his injuries and yet-to-be-proven talent provides intrigue, Everson Griffen is really going to be the one to intrigue us the most.
The uber-athletic (and uber-trouble maker) Griffen finds himself on a team with a crowded depth chart at defensive end, and by all appearances will be allowed to compete with Erin Henderson for a starting job at outside linebacker. The guy made most of his headlines last for being the biggest special teams gunner in the league, but now he will dominate the news with his attempt to transition to a new position.