Friday, December 15, 2017

https://vimeo.com/109249764

There are two minutes left on the clock at the Metrodome. Tommy Kramer drops back, surveys the field, and desperately tries to find an open receiver. He spots Hassan Jones streaking down the sideline and heaves a pass down the field. It’s caught! Touchdown, the Minnesota Vikings win the game!

Only, it’s not Kramer throwing the football or Jones sprinting into the end zone. This story isn’t unfolding in the Metrodome, where thousands of Vikings fans cheer in excited anticipation. No, this is the Troftgruben backyard in Adams, North Dakota, where young Darin is creating his own memories. He’s the quarterback and the receiver in this boyhood-dream-come true; the hero at the center of an improbable Vikings comeback.

Fast forward 30 years, and “Gruben” as he’s affectionately called by friends, is thriving in the middle of a very real, very personal comeback. Like many Vikings fans, he has experienced loss, and disappointment in his life. He’s been to more than 150 games, witnessed countless defeats, and seen firsthand the pain of a victory slipping through the cracks. Through them all, he’s donned his horns, his beard, and most importantly, his mask; symbols of his unwavering support for the purple and gold.

But the costume only reveals so much about Gruben. Behind the armor is more than just a fan; behind the mask is a loving husband, a dedicated friend, and an inspiring individual.

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Another year at training camp means another great series of interview by Tom Moore of VikeFans fame. Tom was just dusting off his best set of conversational chops this morning when he was able to snag Vikings kicker Blair Walsh for a few words.

The video is above and you can listen to all of the fun for yourself, but it is certainly worth noting that Walsh seems as confident as ever and says as much. Having proven to be an honest individual, even when the cameras are on, Walsh sounds determined to rebound from his playoff miss in a way that leaves Vikings fans forgetting about what could have been in 2015.

“I think the people of Minnesota have recognized that I’m one of the best kickers in the league,” Walsh told Moore on Wednesday. “That’s how I feel and that’s what the stats show, so I’m out here, you know, exuding confidence I have in myself and in my abilities. And they know I’ve come through for this team before and I will in the future.”

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

After a day off on from football activities on Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings return to the field today in Mankato. Will the team finally see running back Adrian Peterson participate in the afternoon practice later today?

As for this morning’s walk-thru, we have got your live updates…

Right here!

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Danielle Hunter vs. Brian Robison
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Vikings have a number of players to keep an eye on throughout training camp, but this year does not feature a plethora of story lines that involve young players potentially stealing a veteran’s role in the starting lineup. The most marquee camp battle of this nature perhaps resides at the left end position where it is Danielle Hunter vs. Brian Robison.

Hunter’s rookie season featured six sacks, more than he accumulated in three season at LSU, which meant that his “raw” label was either incredibly overblown or he’s a super fast learner… or both. Hunter now has plenty of attention as a bright young star, with mainstream lists pegging him as likely to break out in 2016, and his intimidating mix of size and athleticism will prove impossible for opposing coordinators to ignore.

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