Saturday, February 6, 2016

by -
9
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Heading into the offseason, one of my biggest concerns surrounding the Vikings was the depth at linebacker. Anthony Barr missed the final four games of the year after undergoing surgery to repair a slightly torn meniscus, and veteran linebacker Chad Greenway wrapped up his worst statistical season since entering the league in 2007.  And at middle linebacker, Jasper Brinkley finished the year with 54 tackles, but left a gaping hole in the defense after signing a free agent deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

As Brent pointed out last week, though, this roster is loaded with young talent at the position, from freak athletes like Anthony Barr to late-round picks like Audie Cole. General manager Rick Spielman isn’t just drafting college’s best linebackers (see Eric Kendricks), he’s letting the coaching staff develop a few lesser-known players.

Seventh-round pick Edmond Robinson has the size and raw tools to contribute for the Vikings in the future, but will have time to grow as he sits behind Brandon Watts, Josh Kaddu, and Brian Peters. In Sunday’s game, both Watts and Peters played well against Pittsburgh’s backups, with Peters flashing his open field skills on a fumble recovery in the third quarter.

If anything, the biggest gap remains in the middle of Mike Zimmer’s unit. The players mentioned above are going to shine during the preseason, as it’s their best chance to step foot on the field and show the coaches what — special teams depth, a practice squad spot — they can bring to the team. But three in particular appear to be fighting for a chance to man the middle of the defense: Audie Cole, Eric Kendricks, and Gerald Hodges.

by -
13

A closer look at the winners and losers from the 2015 Hall of Fame Game.

Matt Engstrom Hall of Fame Game Vikings Steelers
Illustration by Matt Engstrom (mattengstrom.com)

The first game of the 2015 NFL season is officially in the books. And after travelling to Canton, Ohio and beating the Steelers in front of a predominantly black and yellow crowd, the Vikings can stand proudly and puff their chests out as the only undefeated team in the NFL. (Side note: Zimmer is still perfect in Exhibition Games and the one true Preseason Champion.)

These preseason games are critical for coaches to evaluate the players currently on their roster. It gives them a chance to see how rookies handle NFL-level opponents. Preseason games allow teammates to establish additional chemistry on the field against competition they’re not used to seeing every day in practice.

It’s also a great opportunity for hack bloggers and media types to hastily determine who’s doing good for themselves and who isn’t.

So, with this being a Vikings blog (and me being a hack blogger) let’s take a look at the winners and losers from the Hall of Fame game against the Steelers.

by -
3
Image courtesy of Chris Price

It is with great pleasure that I announce another addition to the Vikings Territory team.

If you’ve been reading about the Minnesota Vikings over the last four years, then it is highly unlikely that you have not read the work of beat writer Brian Hall.

Brian, most known for his work at FOX Sports North and his opinions on the Twins, will bring many much-welcomed attributes to the pages of VT in 2015. I trust you will all enjoy his contributions here just as much as I’ve enjoyed reading his work elsewhere over the years.

Please join me in welcoming Brian to VT and be sure to check back for his first articles in the very near future. You can also follow Brian on the Twitter machine.

by -
3
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

If Matt Kalil can play halfway decent like he did last night, and if the team can stay healthy like they did last night, then I dare say that this Vikings offense has the ingredients to be as good (if not better) than what we all witnessed in 2009.

One thing that stuck out to me during the Hall of Fame Game in Canton was just how talented and deep we look to be at the tight end position. Somewhat int he shadow of Adrian Peterson’s return and the acquisition of some speedy receivers, I’m thinking Teddy Bridgewater’s “safety blankets” could be some of our best weapons throughout the 2015 season.

Of all the starters, albeit in very limited action, it was tight end Kyle Rudolph that impressed me the most. Bridgewater targeted him twice on the opening drive. Both passes were caught, both went for first downs, and Rudolph showed some tenacity as he shed three tackles to gain his 22 yards of production.

As fantasy football players everywhere will be quick to point out, the problem with Rudolph isn’t his potential and talent, it always seems to be his ability to come out of a game unscathed. He’s missed 15 games over the last two seasons and, according to a recent Pioneer Press article, he knows something needs to change.

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer isn’t worried about rookie cornerback Trae Waynes, even if Twitter was close to exploding over his play last night. The first-round draft pick was called for multiple holding and pass interference penalties throughout the night while struggling to play off coverage against the Steelers’ backup receivers.

Waynes played 54 defensive snaps — just behind fellow rookie Danielle Hunter — seeing his first action at left cornerback on the Vikings’ third play from scrimmage. Despite his early struggles, Zimmer kept Waynes in for 84 percent of the defense’s snaps. Why?:

“Part of the thing, what I wanted to do, was not take him out. I wanted to find out what kind of toughness he had when things happen like that. When you get a couple of penalties on you, how are you going to fight back, how are you going to respond?”

“I thought he did a nice job with those things, but he’s just got to learn some of the technical things about the NFL. Athletically, and the type of kid he is, he’s going to be fine.”

The biggest knock on Waynes coming out of Michigan State was his grabbiness and physicality in coverage. He often tugged opposing receivers’ jerseys, hooked their wrists at the catch point, and jammed well past five yards down the field. In the NFL, those same tactics are almost impossible to get away with, and that showed throughout the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday night.

Get Social

2,812FansLike
371Subscribers+1
6,820FollowersFollow