Wednesday, July 27, 2016

everson griffen

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Harrison Smith would be an impact player
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Vikings Territory asked, and the readers spoke; in this series of articles, the team will announce the winners of our fan-voted awards, from the Minnesota Vikings’ MVP of 2015 to the Rookie of the Year. Today, a look at the Defensive Player of the Year as voted by you, the fans.

Harrison Smith, FS — Minnesota Vikings

First a trip to the 2016 Pro Bowl in Hawaii, and now, a title as the Vikings Territory Defensive Player of the Year. Though not as grand, the award is important because it comes from the fans of the Minnesota Vikings. Since he was drafted in 2012, Vikings fans have known that Harrison Smith would be an impact player in Minnesota. The award, just like his Pro Bowl invitation, is long overdue, but no less deserved.

He jetted closer to stardom in 2014, the best statistical season of his four-year career. It was Smith’s five interceptions and three sacks that earned him a first-team nod on Pro Football Focus’s All-NFL team, and one could argue he improved his play in 2015. Despite missing nearly four games this year, Smith was a force against the pass and run in Mike Zimmer’s aggressive scheme. “I’m fortunate enough to be in a system where [coach Mike Zimmer] wants us to do all of those things,” he said, per Matt Vensel. “I’m just lucky to be here and happy to be here because of that.”

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Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater to the 2016 Pro Bowl
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The first round of the 2014 NFL Draft is looking golden for Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. His two picks, Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater, have been selected to play in the 2016 Pro Bowl. The news, announced on the team’s official website Monday, gives the Vikings five representatives in this year’s game.

The two will play this Sunday in Honolulu, Hawaii as injury replacements. Bridgewater will take over the spot vacated by Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and Barr will fill in for New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins. This is the first Pro Bowl selection for either player.

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Harrison Smith named to 2016 Pro Bowl
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

This is a post that should’ve been written after the 2014 regular season. And though it’s overdue, it’s no less deserved. As first reported by Darren Wolfson, Harrison Smith is expected to be named to his first Pro Bowl this week. ESPN’s Ben Goessling confirmed the report, making Smith the third Minnesota Vikings player represented in this year’s all-star contest. He’ll join Adrian Peterson and Everson Griffen in Hawaii next Sunday.

Goessling reports that two league sources confirmed Smith’s selection will be made official after tonight’s NFC Championship Game. Smith finished the season with 66 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two interceptions in 13 total games. Though he missed nearly four games with a knee injury, Smith proved invaluable to Mike Zimmer’s defense. And even if his stats weren’t as eye-popping in 2015 as they were in 2014, Smith’s greatness didn’t go unrecognized by the NFL.

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We’re in offseason mode, but my ego can’t take not talking for a few days…. That’s why we put together a short Blitz Edition of the podcast to go over some latest Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings news and notes. We dig into Pat Shurmur interviewing with the team and what that could mean for Scott Turner, the Vikings making a change in strength and conditioning, Everson Griffen finally makes a damn Pro Bowl, and we look ahead at the 2016 schedule!

All that and other “Evan Marcus is a scary looking mofo” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast.

An Andy Carlson Joint

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The selection is the defensive end's first Pro Bowl appearance

Everson Griffen Pro Bowl
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In Minnesota, Vikings fans have known for years that Everson Griffen would become a Pro Bowl player. He flashed the ability as a backup behind Jared Allen and shined as a full-time starter in 2014. Before his first season as the team’s premier pass rusher, Griffen signed a five-year, $42.5 million deal with the Vikings and has proven he’s worth every penny. This year, the six-year veteran recorded a team-high 10.5 sacks and earned the first Pro Bowl berth of his career, as announced on the team’s official website.

Griffen joins Adrian Peterson as one of two Vikings named to this year’s Pro Bowl roster. He replaces Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who will miss the game after undergoing offseason groin surgery. In addition to his double-digit sacks, Griffen recorded 44 tackles (34 solo), four defended passes, 30 quarterback hits, 14 tackles for loss, and one forced fumble.

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