Tuesday, December 6, 2016

jarius wright

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A Testing Ground for Minnesota
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Tonight will mark quite the occasion. The Minnesota Vikings will begin the much anticipated 2016 season by taking on the Cincinnati Bengals in a preseason exhibition game that means very little in so many ways.

However, that doesn’t mean this game is meaningless.

Preseason injuries can immediately and dramatically shift a team’s outlook and is always a primary concern this time of year. Many Minnesota Vikings are going to play their first live-action NFL football under the Paul Brown Stadium lights tonight. A number of roster spots, and even some starting spots, are up for grabs on this highly talented and competitive roster that Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer have assembled.

So, with all of that being said, I wanted to take some time before packing up my purple-clad family and heading to Cincinnati and jot down a list of the five things I am hoping to see out of our Vikings tonight.

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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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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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The start of the 2016 NFL season is getting closer, and soon, fans of the Minnesota Vikings will be able to cheer for their team’s favorite players as they take the field in the Vikings brand new home known as U.S. Bank Stadium. Could this be the year that Minnesota is finally able to get over the hump and capture their very first Super Bowl trophy?

Before the season gets underway, we here at Vikings Territory decided to rank the team’s top 30 players heading into 2016. The rankings are based on submissions from numerous writers that cover the team for various media outlets.

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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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