Wednesday, February 10, 2016

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Kendricks tongue
rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks

Vikings Territory asked, and the readers spoke; in this series of articles, the team will announce the winners of our fan-voted awards, from the Minnesota Vikings’ MVP of 2015 to the Special Teams Player of the Year. Today, a look at the Rookie of the Year, as voted by you, the fans.

Eric Kendricks, LB — Minnesota Vikings

For players in the NFL, success requires exceptional talent, smart coaching, and a little bit of luck. In linebacker Eric Kendricks, the Minnesota Vikings got all three.

The talent was evident this season, as Kendricks started 11 of 14 games for the Vikings and was the first rookie to lead the team in tackles (105) since 1961. The fact that he was coached by Mike Zimmer is an added bonus; the 37-year coaching veteran is renowned as one of the league’s best defensive minds. And the Vikings were lucky to land Kendricks in the second round (45th-overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In the NFL, durability can equate to millions of dollars for any individual player, and durability can directly correlate to the win-loss ratio of any franchise. The rash of pectoral injuries really gained notice after a July injury to cornerback Josh Robinson and the Vikings have decided to part ways with strength coach Evan Marcus this offseason.

The move has been confirmed my multiple outlets, including Viking Update, and marks one of the first instances where a Mike Zimmer hire has not panned out the way he had hoped.

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When it comes to the forty yard dash, former Northern Iowa wide out Terrell Sinkfield is either a myth or a legend, depending on your level of skepticism. The Vikings signed Sinkfield on Friday and, regardless of your opinion on his reported 4.19 second forty yard dash time in 2013, there is no denying that they have added some serious speed by doing so.

The Minnetonka native is listed at 6′ 1″ and 192 pounds and has experience running the ball, as a return man on special team, and also as a pass catching deep threat.

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Special Teams Player of the Year
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Vikings Territory asked, and the readers spoke; in this series of articles, the team will announce the winners of our fan-voted awards, from the Minnesota Vikings’ MVP of 2015 to the Rookie of the Year. Today, a look at the Special Teams Player of the Year, as voted by you, the fans.

Blair Walsh, K — Minnesota Vikings

One play doesn’t define a game, a season, or even a career. Despite missing the game-winning field goal against the Seattle Seahawks earlier this month, Blair Walsh put together one of the best campaigns of his short tenure in the NFL. Even before the year began, the front office expressed confidence in their kicker, signing Walsh to a four-year, $14 million contract at the start of training camp.

He failed to deliver early on, especially in the preseason. While battling a nasty case of the “yips,” Walsh went just 5-of-11 in exhibition games and struggled to connect on the new, 33-yard extra points. His first attempt of the year was a miss against the San Francisco 49ers. He missed a field goal against the Denver Broncos in a game that was ultimately decide by three points. And then, the misses stopped.

Over the next four games, Walsh was a perfect 13-for-13, averaging nearly 40 yards per field goal. In two of those games, he drilled game-winning kicks against the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams. The pressure to perform didn’t seem to weigh on Walsh, and that’s the same mentality he’s taking into 2016.

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We’re in offseason mode, but my ego can’t take not talking for a few days…. That’s why we put together a short Blitz Edition of the podcast to go over some latest Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings news and notes. We dig into Pat Shurmur interviewing with the team and what that could mean for Scott Turner, the Vikings making a change in strength and conditioning, Everson Griffen finally makes a damn Pro Bowl, and we look ahead at the 2016 schedule!

All that and other “Evan Marcus is a scary looking mofo” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast.

An Andy Carlson Joint

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