Saturday, July 22, 2017

jerick mckinnon

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Running Backs
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Welcome to the latest installment of the Vikings Territory Training Camp Primer series focusing on Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, and the Minnesota Vikings’ running back position.

It’s an odd thing to say, but the Vikings are arguably better off at running back without Adrian Peterson in the backfield. With Peterson, Minnesota tied itself to a player stuck in the past, a player too stubborn to advance his game where the team needed it to go.

Thus, the Vikings moved forward without him this offseason, allowing the future Hall-of-Fame running back to take his immense (if limited) talents to New Orleans. And when the Saints come to U.S. Bank Stadium Week 1, the Vikings know exactly what they’ll see in Peterson — a square peg in the round hole that is New Orleans’ pass-happy offense.

But in Minnesota, the backfield situation is one of fluidity. Any of the three players at the top of the depth chart — Murray, Cook, and Jerick McKinnon — can line up from the shotgun or under center. Not only that, they can catch out of the backfield and split carries when asked — elements Peterson didn’t seem to grasp in his final years as the Vikings’ lead back.

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Vikings Territory staffer Drew Mahowald introduces his weekly, brand-new segment for the 2017 season — The Skol Scale.

It’s so strange rooting for the Minnesota Vikings. It’s kind of like a roller-coaster ride with all kinds of ups, downs, turns, jerks, and twists. Just when it looks like nothing but sunny skies ahead, the ride suddenly steers you the opposite way in the blink of an eye.

Few examples of this phenomenon are better than the 2016 season. A blazing 5-0 start had the Vikings atop all significant NFL categories. They looked like a Super Bowl team, and it’s only normal that the Purple and Gold faithful started to behave like it.

Then, every offensive lineman and his dog tore an ACL and the rest is history. The Vikings limped their way to a deflating 8-8 record and left their fans with mixed emotions heading into 2017.

Was the 5-0 start legitimate, or was it a fluke? Did Minnesota add enough ammo to its offensive line in the offseason? How much of an impact will key departures such as Cordarrelle Patterson and Captain Munnerlyn have on the team?

At some point between the end of the 2016 season and now, you’ve probably asked yourself: How optimistic should I feel about the Vikings in 2017?

Now you have your answer — The Skol Scale.

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Vikings Training Camp Preview

In just 11 days, the Minnesota Vikings open training camp on the Minnesota State, Mankato campus. Rookie practices begin on Monday, July 24th and full team practices start Thursday, July 27th.

As usual, this time of year has brought optimism to the Vikings and their fans. But this year, things seem different. There’s good reason to be excited, as the offseason resulted in refreshing roster replacements, an influx of young talent, and a promising outlook on lovable quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

To recap the offseason moves, Minnesota added free agents Latavius Murray, Riley Reiff, Datone Jones, Michael Floyd, and Mike Remmers.

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A Uniquely Vikings Problem
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In a perfect world, field goal kickers don’t miss kicks. They relegate themselves to a side field during practice, grab a bucket of balls, and spend hours taking reps from different spots on the grass. Their sole purpose is to turn the swing of a leg into three points, but the outcome isn’t always guaranteed.

Rarely do NFL kickers finish a year with a perfect field goal percentage. Sending a tiny, leather sphere through relatively narrow goalposts isn’t a surefire proposition; factors such as rushing defenders, wind, and the ‘yips’ often turn chip shots into near-impossible tasks for the kicker.

Still, fans expect perfection — even if perfection is rarely the outcome.

I do not. I’m a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, so I’ve grown accustomed to the inexplicable woes of place kickers. From Gary Anderson to Blair Walsh, I’ve seen, er, sobbed through it all. I no longer take a simple extra point for granted, and after the events of the 2016 season, the other few phases are suddenly a reason for concern.

Forget the offensive line — improved through free agency and the draft — or the quarterback situation; it’s special teams as a whole that could make or break the Vikings’ upcoming season.

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Episode 80

Graphic designed by Brett Anderson

BJ Reidell and Drew Mahowald tackle the quarterback and running back positions in the first installment of a segment geared to get Minnesota Vikings fans prepared for training camp. Also included is a discussion regarding where Sam Bradford should rank relative to his peers and some Adrian Peterson speculation.

Episode 80 is sponsored by local stand-up comic Brendan Gay — Catch the LIVE recording of his first comedy special at the Joke Joint Comedy Club (Lilydale, Minn.) on August 10th! Use to the promo code “BRENDAN” to get 40% off your ticket on the Joke Joint Comedy Club official website!


  1. Intro: The Agenda (0:00)
  2. Advertising: See Local Comic Brendan Gay Perform LIVE August 10th (1:09)
  3. Bradford Blasphemy: 24th-Best Quarterback in the NFL?! (1:39)
  4. Training Camp Preview: Quarterbacks (13:50)
  5. Training Camp Preview: Running Backs (32:43)
  6. Twitter Takes: Adrian Peterson Week 1 Projections (46:05)
  7. Drew’s Final Take: Parody in Sports is Overrated (55:06)
  8. Sign-Out: Potential Live Show Coming Wednesday (57:48)

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