Tuesday, July 26, 2016

cordarrelle patterson

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Crowning Mr. Mankato
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

This 10-part series focuses on the biggest questions facing the Vikings as they head into Mankato for their training camp festivities. Be sure to answer the first eight questions HEREHEREHEREHEREHEREHERE, HERE, and HERE.

Who will be this year’s ‘Mr. Mankato?’

The Minnesota Vikings are back on the National Football League’s map after an impressive 2015 season. They’re dark-horse contenders for the Super Bowl and a near-lock to battle for a second-straight NFC North title. On both sides of the football, the roster is loaded with up-and-coming stars, from Anthony Barr to Teddy Bridgewater.

Joining them at training camp, which begins next Thursday, are a slew of rookies, under-the-radar players, and fresh faces. Their names won’t jump off the page, but they will have a chance for recognition elsewhere — as candidates for the annual ‘Mr. Mankato’ award. Each year, ESPN 1500 bestows the honor on one deserving player who surprises and impresses at training camp. Last year, it was Stefon Diggs, and the year before, it was Adam Thielen.

This offseason, a few candidates stick out as the ‘cream of the crop.’ Who has a chance to walk away with the award at the end of training camp?

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

This 10-part series focuses on the biggest questions facing the Vikings as they head into Mankato for their training camp festivities. Be sure to answer the first six questions HEREHEREHEREHERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

We only have three questions left, and this one is complex because it is hard to directly answer it without directly answering some others regarding roster makeup. Still, I have a sneaking suspicion that a Vikings special teams battle or two could end up being the talk of Mankato, and that a surprise is as likely there as anywhere else on the roster.

Before getting to the question (and the all-important poll), I wanted to take a quick look at the main guys on special teams as it stands… at the guys that currently have jobs to lose.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Mankato’s annual training camp is where the Minnesota Vikings (and their fans) converge to shape their roster and formulate a plan of attack for the coming season. This year, like every other, a bevy of questions remain unanswered and Vikings Territory attempts to identify 10 of the biggest questions and give you a chance to predict how things will shake out.

This is Part Three and if you missed out on the first two installments then feel free to catch up by clicking HERE and HERE.

CAMP QUESTION #3 – STACKING THE WIDE OUTS

These questions are not being presented in any particular order of importance. If they were, this one might have been a candidate to be at the top of the list.

Much has been made about the potential, attitudes, weaknesses, and production displayed by Minnesota’s relatively young and unproven group of pass catchers. Nearly all of the names come with an interesting enough story, and the creation of the depth chart at the position is sure to provide us with plenty of preseason drama.

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Projecting the Vikings' Final 53-Man Roster
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The 2016 season inched forward a bit when the Vikings opened their OTA offseason workouts. With that came plenty of early optimism about the Vikings’ talented roster. Teddy is ready to throw for 10,000 yards. Adrian Peterson is in the best shape of his life. 2015 top pick Trae Waynes is thriving and Aaron Boone looks great in purple.

If you listen closely, you can hear the faintest of claims that the Vikings are a true Super Bowl contender.

It is too early to say most of these things, but when you start to stack Minnesota’s roster, you can see why the hype exists. I struggled with my first attempt to pencil in a final 53-man roster, mostly because there will be talented players who will inevitably be cut. The front office won’t have an easy task on their hands, but I’d take a loaded roster over a barren one any day of the week.

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VT QOTW

final 53-man roster for the Vikings
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The bubble; the void at the bottom of an NFL roster where a player’s season can sink or swim. Minnesota Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels has made a living on the bubble, scraping his way onto the final 53-man roster like clockwork each year. Journeymen and undrafted free agents spend most of their careers on the edge, but they’re not the only ones in fear of the eventual ‘pop.’

When a team like the Vikings consistently builds through the draft and retains young talent each offseason, they make it more difficult for those at the bottom of the depth chart to stick around. Sometimes, it’s a matter of circumstances; when Rick Spielman uses a first round pick on a wide receiver, another will have to go to make room on the roster. Other times, it’s a matter of players wearing out their welcome; think Gerald Hodges last year, and possibly, Cordarrelle Patterson this offseason.

Front offices have to make sacrifices when constructing a roster. It’s the reality of life in the NFL, where starting positions are only guaranteed if your name is Adrian Peterson or Teddy Bridgewater. Spielman’s cuts, as they do each year, will include a few surprising names. Who, exactly? That’s what the Vikings Territory team is going to try and answer today!

Fill in the blank — ‘Player X’ will not make the final 53-man roster for the Vikings.

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