Friday, July 31, 2015

kyle rudolph

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In an ESPN article posted Monday, NFL senior writer John Clayton said the Vikings are in the running for a 2015 playoff team.

In the article, Clayton cites a few factors in his analysis. Teddy Bridgewater certainly shoulders much of the responsibility moving forwardClayton did offer praise for Bridgewater’s rookie seasonbut it’s more than just the quarterback at this point…

It’s adding Adrian Peterson back into the equation and seeing how much better Peterson makes Bridgewater. Clayton reminded us of the following:

Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton were success stories early in their careers because of their talent — and because they had the benefit of running attacks that typically produced 130 yards or more. (Yes, you can pile up added rushing yardage late in wins, but all three of these teams built around the run.) Look what Peterson did for Christian Ponder. In 2012, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards coming off knee surgery. Ponder averaged 23.7 points per game and the Vikings made the playoffs. After four years, Minnesota determined Ponder wasn’t good enough and moved on to Bridgewater.

I like Clayton’s take on this. Granted, the team needs both AP and TB to play well; there’s no doubt about that. But individually, neither player is as strong as the way they can feed off each other. Bridgewater had a solid debut season (averaging 22.1 points per game) without Peterson on the field, and having the star RB back in the lineup will take a bit of the pressure off Bridgewater’s shoulders.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

With minicamp complete and a little over a month until the Vikings head to Mankato for training camp, all the focus appears to be on Adrian Peterson. How many yards will he rush for? How will Norv Turner use him out of the backfield? Will he be the same after missing a year?

They’re valid questions, but the success of the Vikings does not rest solely on Adrian Peterson’s massive shoulders. Although Peterson single-handedly carried the offense in 2012 — thanks, Christian Ponder — he’s surrounded by more talent than he’s seen in his 9 years with the Vikings, and that starts with the man he’ll be lining up behind  — Teddy Bridgewater.

After a promising rookie season, Bridgewater is expected to “make the leap”, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land atop NFL.com’s infamous rankings this offseason. Last year, he started 12 games for the Vikings, threw 14 touchdowns, and finished with a 6-6 record under center.

His stats don’t “wow” on paper (2,919 yards, 85.2 quarterback rating), but the poise, decision-making, and maturity he displayed behind a rickety offensive line are hard to dismiss. Heck, he did it all without Peterson, who looks to add yet another element to Norv Turner’s attack in 2015.

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Living in Sebeka, MN, Mike Arthur proves to be another storied Vikings fan, his childhood filled with memories surrounding the purple and gold. When Arthur was in kindergarten, he played football with his friends, and they each picked players to act as. Arthur always chose Anthony Carter or Tommy Kramer.

Things really picked up for Arthur when Hall of Fame WR Cris Carter entered the picture.”I became a super fan when Warren Moon and Carter started connecting for all those touchdowns,” he remembers.

There has been plenty of disappointment between “the good ol’ days” and now, and Arthur has endured the pain and heartache with the rest of us. However, he’s ready and excited for a season that will hopefully go a little more according to plan.

The offseason is in full swing, and the Vikings have made plenty of moves praised by the fans, including Arthur. Drafting CB Trae Waynes and LB Eric Kendricks will prove significant for Minnesota. Arthur weighs in on the selections:

“Waynes will be a huge upgrade in our secondary and should help this defense turn the corner from being good to great. I think of all the trouble the Vikings had getting off the field on third down last season, and he should be the key to that puzzle.” 

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Kyle Rudolph is broken.

He’s missed 16 games in four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, and before that, 9 in three seasons at Notre Dame. In 2013, it was a broken left foot. In 2014, it was a combination of freak injuries, from torn abdominal muscles to an MCL strain.

In a March phone interview with Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, Rudolph expressed his frustration with the nagging injuries:

“I’d like to think no one in the league works harder than I do to stay healthy and take care of my body, but the bottom line is I haven’t been, and the only way to get rid of those questions is to play 16 games.”

After signing a five-year contract extension worth up to $40 million in the 2014 offseason, Rudolph failed to live up to expensive expectations — his $19.4 million in guaranteed money made him the second-highest paid tight end in the league behind Jimmy Graham. Even after shedding 16 pounds and getting faster in preparation for Norv Turner’s Air Coryell offense, Rudolph spent more time on the sidelines than in the end zone, missing almost half of the Vikings’ games last season.

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