Friday, January 20, 2017

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Vikings LB Emmanuel Lamur
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer covets versatility, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Sure, the Vikings have swiss army knives like Rhett Ellison and Jerick McKinnon, but it’s on defense where that malleability really shines.

There’s Anthony Barr, former UCLA defensive end, who entered the league two years ago and quickly became one of the NFL’s best outside linebackers. There’s Danielle Hunter, a raw prospect out of LSU who transformed himself into a forceful edge rusher last season. Oh, and don’t forget about Harrison Smith, a hybrid strong/free safety who truly does it all for Zimmer’s defense.

Players at every level can switch positions, move inside or out,  and even stand up or put a hand in the ground; the possibilities are endless in a Zimmer system. Think back to Sharrif Floyd sliding to nose tackle last season, or Brian Robison moving inside on third-and-long situations. Zimmer’s players are expected to adapt to the changing landscape of the NFL, where teams are throwing the football more than ever and consistently lining up with three to five receivers.

With such a desire for scheme flexibility, the signing of former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Emmanuel Lamur in free agency makes perfect sense. Though Lamur’s started just 15 games since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012, he has the varied experience and athleticism that Zimmer loves. When training camp begins in July, he’ll have a chance to start opposite Barr as the Vikings’ weak side linebacker, potentially adding another dimension to Minnesota’s already excellent unit.

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image courtesy of vikings.com

A stout run defense rarely garners the splashy headlines in today’s pass-heavy NFL schemes. Mike Zimmer however, is a head coach who prides himself on being able to control the clock with a power running attack and a dominant defense. Under Zimmer, the run defense hasn’t received the press attention as some of the other phases of the game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any less of a focal point for him.

In Leslie Frazier’s final season in 2013, the Vikings finished ranked 11th against the run giving up 105.8 yards per game. The following year, Zimmer’s first as a head coach, the Vikings fell all the way back to 25th allowing 121.4 rushing yards per game. The Vikings took a step forward last season by only allowing 109.2 rushing yards per game, good for 17th in the league.

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One of the great mysteries of the Minnesota Vikings 2015 season was how wide receiver Charles Johnson so suddenly faded out of relevancy and why. Almost too predictably, a Charles Johnson injury is now the given reason for the lack of playing time and production.

According to ESPN‘s Ben Goessling, Johnson suffered a broken rib in Septembers game against San Diego while trying to come back for a ball that was ultimately picked off.  Johnson told Goessling that it wasn’t until the November 1st game against Chicago that he felt like he could manage the pain well enough to play effectively.

“You can’t sneeze, you can’t move, laughing hurts,” Johnson said. “But it’s all good now.”

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A Keanu Neal scouting report with a Minnesota Vikings focus.

[This Keanu Neal Scouting Report, with a Vikings slant, has been provided to Vikings Territory by Draft Season. Be sure to check back for more and also be sure to visit Draft Season to quench your NFL Draft thirst. All previously published scouting reports can be found by clicking here.]

Keanu Neal | S, Florida

Measurements

Height – 6’0″
Weight – 211 lbs.

At First Glance

Projected Round:

2nd – 3rd Round

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Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings are guilty… Of having a great offseason so far in free agency as well as retaining their own core guys. With the draft rapidly approaching, Rick Spielman has to decide if he wants to give quarterback Teddy Bridgewater some offensive firepower with a top-tier wide receiver or continue to build on Mike Zimmer’s “Dream Team” Defense. Harrison Smith is F. Lee Bailey.

Friday Free-For-All Talkers Include
• Greg Jennings Wants to Comeback
• Vikings Interested in German Wide Receiver Moritz Böhringer
• 30 Visit Week Rumors
• Caledonia named Minnesota Football Program of the Year by the Vikings
• Teddy and the Offense Working Out Together
• Vikings Preseason Schedule Released

All that and other “Rushford-Peterson >>> Caledonia” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast.

An Andy Carlson Joint

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