Friday, September 4, 2015

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

According to reports from the Star Tribune’s Rochelle Olson, the Minnesota Vikings’ owners have signed a purchase agreement for 185 acres in Eagan, Minnesota.  The land could potentially move the team’s corporate headquarters and practice facility from their current home of Winter Park in Eden Prairie.

The Vikings opened Winter Park 34 years ago, and the facility is beginning to show its age. In a May article for the Tribune, Olson described the team’s current offices and practice facilities as “lagging by NFL standards,” specifically pointing to a “dearth of meeting places for executives and players” and coaches’ offices that are “squat, claustrophobic cubbies with little space for much more than a desk.”

For a team with a new stadium opening in less than a year, it’s only fitting that officials begin to identify and develop headquarters that will match the grandeur of their new Sunday home. Shortly after Olson’s story broke, the Vikings released an official statement on the purchase:

“As we have previously discussed, the existing Winter Park training facility poses space and flexibility challenges for the Vikings as we continue to grow and evolve,” said Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren. “While we are evaluating a variety of options to accommodate the long-term needs of our football team and the organization at-large, this property is intriguing for several reasons. Not only does this location have tremendous space and flexibility for future growth, but it also offers proximity to both Minneapolis and St. Paul downtowns, as well as the airport. With this agreement in place, we now have an opportunity to perform a thorough evaluation of the site. We continue to appreciate our strong relationship with the community of Eden Prairie and the positive environment the city’s leadership has created over the past 30-plus years.”

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(used with permission)

If you ask John Kurkosky how long he’s been rooting for the Minnesota Vikings, he’ll tell you it’s been a pretty long time.

To be specific, since “they got the Purple People Eaters tag.”

For those of you that want to do the math, that’s fine with him. Kurkosky has stuck with this team for years, and he doesn’t expect to leave its side anytime soon. Kurkosky used to attend the season openers at the Metrodome. Early on, he loved watching some of those classic names that all Vikings fans will recognize: Jim Marshall, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Chuck Foreman and Fran Tarkenton—or “Fran the Man,” as Kurkosky says.

Later, he watched Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Brett Favre come through the line.

And now, Kurkosky couldn’t be more excited to watch a new Vikings roster and new coaching system compete for a chance to make the NFL Playoffs. This fan is a believer in head coach Mike Zimmer, now entering his second season in Minnesota. Coming from someone who remembers watch the great Bud Grant at the helm, this is high praise. Kurkosky said the following:

Zimmer has brought a lot of hope. I think and hope he will be a great coach; we are starting to see him build a team that plays and works hard together and puts in that extra effort for a game victory. I believe he will make these players have more confidence in themselves, which will consequently bring more effort and more victories.

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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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