Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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Minnesota Vikings Jerick McKinnon Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt is cool and all, but he’s no Jerick McKinnon. I open the show with an opining love letter to #21 and how I hope the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings will actually use him this year. Then we turbo through a couple roster battles that I’m keeping an eye on. There’s a lot of suss out over the next few weeks for the Vikes.

Battle Talking Points Include
• Joel Stave vs Taylor Heinicke
• Matt Asiata vs CJ Ham
• Adam Thielen vs Jarius Wright
• David Morgan II vs Rhett Ellison
• Willie Beavers vs Everyone
• Scott Crichton vs Everyone
• Emmanuel Lamur vs Edmond Robinson
• Marcus Sherels vs Everyone
• Antone Exum vs Jayron Kearse

All that and other “Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint

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Balanced Vikings Edge Bengals
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The casual fan will tell you that preseason football doesn’t matter. A head coach will say it’s a critical juncture in the formation of a 53-man roster. The third-string running back will say it’s his time to prove he belongs in the NFL.

Opinions may vary among different audiences, but one fact holds true; the preseason marks the start of professional football, and with that, a chance to analyze the Minnesota Vikings for the first time since January 2016.

Minnesota’s humble 17-16 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last Friday left much to be desired. Head coach Mike Zimmer won’t be happy with his team’s sloppy play, especially that of the first-team offense and defense. Still, there are signs of a contender in-the-making, with pieces in place at every level to enjoy another strong season in 2016.

After each win — and unfortunately, each loss — I’ll break down key aspects of the game that led to a victory or Sunday defeat. This morning, I’ll dive into the Vikings’ film against the Bengals, which reveals Minnesota’s slow growth up to this point of the offseason.

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two new starters
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

With one preseason game in the books, the Vikings are doing some shuffling atop of the depth chart.

When the team returned to practice Sunday, there were two new faces in the starting lineup. Most notably, Andre Smith had been demoted to second team and T.J. Clemmings was practicing as the starting right tackle, according to numerous media outlets.

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At the onset of the 2015 season, reports emerged that human mascot “Ragnar” had priced himself out of employment with the Minnesota Vikings organization after he caused a stir by posting a picture of himself watching Minnesota’s first home game from his own house.

Those reports indicated that Ragnar was asking for a 10 year contract at $20,000 per game, which was a million and a half dollars (actually more) that the Vikings apparently were not willing to commit to.

The last time we heard from Ragnar was just prior to the Vikings January matchup with Green Bay where he was the focus of a silly televised skit that ended with him replacing his horns with a cheesehead.

Joseph Juranitch, the real life man behind the the Ragnar persona, was recently the subject of a Vikings Journal two part interview (Part One Link & Part Two Link) with Joe Johnson. What he says suggests that his demands were perhaps not as greedy as last year’s reports would have us believe, and that poor communication from Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren may be to blame for the way things played out in public.

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image courtesy of Tom Moore

It’s no real surprise that a triple-option quarterback from Georgia Southern has been overshadowed in his first two seasons in the NFL by future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson. Last season, Jerick McKinnon was limited to just 73 touches for the Minnesota Vikings as Peterson went on to win his third career rushing title while toting the rock a league leading 327 times. Peterson is ninth all-time in rushing touchdowns (97) and 17th all-time in rushing yards (11,675) and his quest to climb the NFL leader board could fleece more snaps away from McKinnon again this season.

It’s true McKinnon’s opportunities were slighted in 2015, yet the 5’9” 205 pound speedster was anything but lost in the shadows of an icon. A lack of playing time hasn’t stopped McKinnon from flashing his unbelievable athletic ability. For a smaller running back known for his breakaway speed, McKinnon has shown some surprising power as well. He is recognized as a freak in the weight room who can bench press twice his weight and squat three times his weight. His incredible work ethic is beginning to translating to the gridiron as he continues to develop strength as a pass blocker and improved power as a runner.

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