Monday, September 26, 2016

linval joseph

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Week 1 Opponent Preview

Stopping the run key to stopping Titans
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

An in-depth look at the Minnesota Vikings’ weekly opponents, with a focus on specific plays, schemes, and players.

There’s an eerie ‘deja vu’ feeling around Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans. The Minnesota Vikings travel to Nashville as road favorites, prepared to face a team with a mobile quarterback and power running game. They’re expected to win, however, and should start the regular season with a ‘W” in the win column.

Unless, that is, Mike Zimmer’s team repeats its opening performance from 2015; a 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers that saw Carlos Hyde run for 168 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings looked sloppy, unprepared, and overmatched at the line of scrimmage, repeatedly failing to set the edge or fill run gaps.

When the game begins on Sunday, the Vikings will once again have their hands full. The Titans boast one of the league’s best running back duos in Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry, a one-two punch that averaged 161 yards per game this preseason.

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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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Photo courtesy of vikings.com

After returning to Mankato to cover training camp for my fourth consecutive year, I have started to notice a few consistencies. No more notable, maybe, than the amount of fans who will drive in from all over to watch their Vikings practice under the hot sun of southern Minnesota.

More than 10,000 fans attended the annual evening practice Saturday night, making it clear that faith in the organization is at an all time high.

This comes as no surprise to many, I am sure. There has always been that pocket of the fan base that believes their team can be a Super Bowl contender, no matter what the four letter network is projecting. What seems to be different this year however, is the amount of faith fans have in head coach Mike Zimmer and the front office led by general manager Rick Spielman.

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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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This list began four weeks ago with 30 players on the Minnesota Vikings 2016 roster. It is now time to reveal the final five players that ranked at the very top of this illustrious countdown.

A big thanks goes out to all of the writers that participated in the creation of this list. Without everyone’s consistent contribution, this series would not have had a chance of being put together.

Before continuing to read, it is recommended to check out parts one, two, and three of this list in order to get a full perspective of how the writers featured in this series feel about the Vikings roster for the upcoming season.

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