Thursday, August 25, 2016

Anthony Barr

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Minnesota Vikings Teddy Bridgewater Injury

Teddy Bridgewater has a mysterious and sudden shoulder injury. Matt Kalil bowed out of practice Sunday. Brandon Fusco has a neck. Who the heck knows about Mike Harris. Sharrif Floyd and Eric Kendricks are perpetually banged up. Jarius Wright has a calf. Tre Roberson has a broken hand. Xavier Rhodes has a hamsting. WHAT IS HAPPENING?! WHY CAN WE NOT HAVE NICE THINGS?

Austin Belisle (@austincbelisle) of Vikings Territory joins me again to talk Teddy, preseason, and Vikings as we mercifully rumble towards the regular season.

All that and other “Ice Up Son” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

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Opponent Spotlight — Preseason Week 2

Vikings Meet Their Match
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Twenty seven yards and a few feet is all that separates the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks. Had Blair Walsh made that fateful field goal last January, the Vikings would be playing the role of older brother. Instead, they’re forced to look up and admire all that the Seahawks have accomplished in a few short year; a Super Bowl title, NFC West domination, and unmatched home field advantage.

But a closer look reveals the Vikings and Seahawks to be more “twin” than “stepbrother.” From their defensive-minded head coaches to their ground-first approaches on offense, the newfound NFC rivals share plenty in common. Before the teams’ playoff matchup last season, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll acknowledged the parallels between Minnesota and Seattle; particularly, between himself and Vikings ‘captain’ Mike Zimmer.

“There’s such a similarity in the formula that we both represent as defensive guys and former coordinators,” Carroll said, per Vikings.com. “I really appreciate it because I see — because we’ve been successful at putting out this formula of playing defense and special teams and the running game, and they’re doing the same thing.”

In some regards, Zimmer has built his team in the same mold as the Seahawks. The defense is relatively simple, but that simplicity allows his players to react more quickly than most defensive units. The offense controls the clock and pace of the game through the run. And on the sidelines, Zimmer coaches with a unique personality; one that defines his roster much in the way Carroll’s does in Seattle. These are all traits that could describe the Seahawks, but the Vikings are a distinctly “Zimmer” team, built to match Seattle in any environment.

Tonight, the franchises reunite for the first time since playing in the third-coldest game in NFL history. While the stakes may not be as high, there are certainly motivating factors that make this game worth a watch. It’s a preseason tilt, but if both teams meet expectations during the regular season, a playoff rematch isn’t out of the question. Thus, it’s critical to understand what makes the Seahawks ‘tick.’

In the first “Opponent Spotlight” of the year, we’ll analyze tape from the opposing team’s most recent game; identifying concepts, schemes, and strategies the Vikings must master come Sunday morning (or in this case, Thursday night).

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Vikings' Depth Chart Begins to Take Shape
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Training Camp for the Minnesota Vikings hasn’t been all that exciting this year. Save for a few one-handed catches from Stefon Diggs and some specular deep shots from Teddy Bridgewater, much remains the same in Mankato. Roster turnover isn’t an issue for the team, free agent acquisitions are performing as advertised, and trust in the organization is at an all-time high.

There’s plenty to be certain about in Minnesota; the strength of the defense, Adrian Peterson’s rushing ability, and Blair Walsh’s renewed confidence. Uncertainty, in a sense, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Vikings have so much young talent that difficult depth chart decisions won’t make or break the team’s season.

In Minnesota, the front office isn’t asking, “Who’s our quarterback;” they’re debating the hierarchy of a loaded roster. And no matter the final decision, the result will be a 53-man roster with more potential than any Vikings team since 2009.

This morning during walkthroughs, head coach Mike Zimmer gave the media a sneak preview of the team’s ‘Cincinnati’ depth chart. It’s the first unofficial roster of the 2016 preseason and reveals exactly where the Vikings stand after two weeks in Mankato.

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Photo courtesy of vikings.com

After returning to Mankato to cover training camp for my fourth consecutive year, I have started to notice a few consistencies. No more notable, maybe, than the amount of fans who will drive in from all over to watch their Vikings practice under the hot sun of southern Minnesota.

More than 10,000 fans attended the annual evening practice Saturday night, making it clear that faith in the organization is at an all time high.

This comes as no surprise to many, I am sure. There has always been that pocket of the fan base that believes their team can be a Super Bowl contender, no matter what the four letter network is projecting. What seems to be different this year however, is the amount of faith fans have in head coach Mike Zimmer and the front office led by general manager Rick Spielman.

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Image courtesy of Chris Price

Over the course of the last few weeks, Austin Belisle and myself have asked you to make predictions about how the Minnesota Vikings’ 2016 training camp will play out. Meanwhile, Adam Patrick compiled consensus rankings of the “Top 30” most important Vikings players of 2016, with help from 14 knowledgable Vikings writers. Below is the genesis of all that work.

We’ve used your votes, combined with the rankings, to try and assemble one of the most collaborative roster predictions you’ll be able to find anywhere.

Of course, a few questions remain despite the compilation of input, so Austin and I did our best to fill in the blanks. That leads us to our final installment of “10 Camp Questions” in which the tenth question for you, the readers of Vikings Territory, are invited to answer.

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