Saturday, July 2, 2016

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Photo courtesy of vikings.com

The Vikings still have three games prior to opening the season in San Francisco, meaning there is ample time to make their case for a roster spot on the final 53 man roster.

Although you can likely pencil in a vast majority of players who will make up the final roster, training camp and preseason games mean so much to players who are on the bubble. That time under the microscope is the reason a player like Adam Thielen went from undrafted to strong contributor.

There are several decisions that the Vikings front office can make that will impact how the team will go about their business in 2015. Will they carry three quarterbacks? Can home grown cornerback Marcus Sherels find a way to stay on this team? Do we pass enough to justify six wide receivers?

These seemingly subtle decisions make a huge impact on the way team will look to win the NFC North.

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Christian Ponder returns to Minnesota Saturday as the Oakland Raiders roll into The Bank to take on our Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings in some preseason action. There are other (less funny) storylines coming into this third of five preseason games for the Purple Peeps, Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) joins us for his weekly spot to cover some of the main talkers.

Other “Khalil vs Kalil” Talkers Include
• More Than Words campaign winding down, still time to donate!
• Arif’s new theme song…
• Christian Ponder back in Minnesota. The NFL schedule makers are LOLing.
• Bykowski out, is Yankey next up at backup left tackle?
• What’s Scott Crichton going to bring to the table?
• Danielle Hunter has been solid, despite few “gifable” plays.
• Zimmer throws cold water on the Exum train.
• Robert Blanton is William Hung?
• Post Mecca Abdullah is my favorite indie band.
• Anthony Barr back. What should we expect?
• Waynes out of the nickel. Focusing on LCB.
• Cordarrelle to Carolina? Who says no?
• Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater?….. (Stop laughing)
• Amari Cooper + Michael Crabtree could be a great combo.
• Khalil-vs-Kalil *Cue Foreboding Music*
• What to look for Saturday.
• Bottom of the roster: Who’s alive & who’s dead man walking?
• Justin Trattou should play safety.
• Can all the pectoral injuries be blamed on strength training? (Spoiler: No)
• Vikings head strength & conditioning coach Evan Marcus is a scary dude.
• Surprise to make the 53? Surprise cut? (I pick B-Rob)
• Audie Cole vs Eric Kendricks. If a tie, who wins?

All that and other “Please unblock me on Twitter, Sam Ponder” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Cordarrelle Patterson stands waiting in the back of the end zone, the heels of his feet hugging the white paint behind him. It’s Week 8 of the 2013 season, and the rookie is already the league’s most dangerous kick returner, averaging 36.5 yards-per-return to start his career.

Opposing teams have quickly learned to kick the ball away from Patterson, but the Packers’ Tim Masthay boots the ball deep, a mistake that will forever live in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Leaning back, Patterson fields the kick and idles over the goal line, reading his blocking and charting a path through the scrum ahead.

He quickly finds a crease and explodes, following Toby Gerhart up the alley with one hard cut. The burst that made Patterson so exciting his rookie year allows him to run upfield untouched, save for a diving attempt from Packers corner Micah Hyde. With one more plant step and juke, Patterson makes three Packers miss before hitting his fourth gear en route to the end zone.

Image courtesy of Bleacher Report
Image courtesy of Bleacher Report

The play above stands as the longest kick return in NFL history, a 109-yard example of exceptional athleticism and near-perfect blocking. It highlights everything that made Patterson such a threat in the return game his rookie year — speed, vision, a commitment to play design, and aggressiveness.

So what happened? Since making the Packers coverage team look silly, Patterson hasn’t sniffed the end zone on special teams. His yards-per-return have dipped dramatically — from 32.40 in 2013 to 25.62 in 2014 — and he appears more timid, even conservative, with the ball in his hands. Sure, Patterson is responsible for some of regression, but Mike Priefer’s unit must also improve if the Vikings are to return to form in 2015.

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Minnesota has some depth at wide receiver this season, and six main guys are standing out as major competitors for the final 53-man roster: veteran Mike Wallace, Cordarrelle Patterson, Adam Thielen, Jarius Wright, Charles Johnson and rookie Stefon Diggs. Although the general belief is that the Vikings will end up hanging onto all six guys, we decided to have a discussion. If Minnesota only keeps five receivers, which player doesn’t make the cut? 

Adam: Cordarrelle Patterson
Wallace and Johnson are totally safe. Wright is too good to consider, despite the fact that he may not be a Viking after his contract year. Diggs is a recent investment that has no chance of going anywhere, especially with the proficiency he has displayed so far in training camp and preseason. The decision really comes down to Patterson and Thielen, which is an incredibly difficult decision to make.

I loved Patterson coming out of college and thought he displayed a lot of traits of a first-round receiver, despite being raw. However, I’m losing patience with the “raw” label he has been given and feel like he has even regressed under the current coaching staff. I don’t see the “those legs never stop churning” efforts that I noticed on his college tape anymore and have to wonder if he’ll even get a chance to prove his worth as a true receiver before his rookie contract has expired. He is a wild card at this point, and sticking with him over a guy like Thielen could be a gamble.

Thielen, on the other hand, has greatly exceeded expectations and has a knack for being exactly in the right spot at exactly the right time. He is speedy, displays dependable catching abilities, and has tremendous value on special teams.

If I had to cut one of these guys right here and right now, Adam Thielen is the better football player. I would rather cut Patterson and have him make that decision look stupid by succeeding elsewhere than keep him and have me look stupid right here in Minnesota.

Either way, a bursting depth chart at this position is a nice problem to have and I hope they decide to carry six. If not, then Rick Spielman has a dandy of a decision on his hands that carries real-life ramifications unlike this little experiment of ours.

Brian: Adam Thielen
When all is said and done, I believe the Vikings keep 6 WRs and they all stay. I say, if any of them get cut, it’s Thielen. He’s a valuable player given his ability to play several roles but he probably has limited upside as well. The first three are set. Diggs is a rookie they won’t take a chance on cutting and, as frustrating as he can be, they can’t give up on Patterson’s potential yet.

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Okay, Vikings fans, here’s the deal… We need your help!

The #MoreThanWords campaign ends on Saturday evening and we’re desperate to see more donations hit the books over at Chad Greenway’s Lead the Way Foundation before the deadline. If you are unfamiliar with what we are trying to accomplish then please click here and learn about the effort!

The main thing you need to know is that you can possibly win some awesome prizes, like an autographed football and a new jersey, by donating as little as $10 to the awesome program that is “Chad’s Lockers.”

Here is a rundown of everything that has happened so far:

Alright, so here is where things stand regarding our little “competition” between sites and the total funds raised to-date.

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