Tuesday, July 7, 2015

minnesota vikings

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Matt Vensel (@mattvensel) of the Star Tribune joins the show to talk about our Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings as we count down the days until we’re back in the hood in Mankato ready to launch this 2015 season into orbit. This year’s version of 4th of July has come and gone (without any Vikings pulling a JPP, FTW), so grab some leftover BBQ, toss some aloe on the sunburns, and listen to some Purple FTW! goodness!

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Antone Exum, Jr.
It’s no secret that the Vikings don’t have a hard-and-fast guarantee at safety other than Harrison Smith. Smith has been a top roster member since joining the team, and as long as he stays healthy, you know he’ll stay put in the starting lineup. Who will play opposite, him, though?

Although it looks like Robert Blanton is currently first in line as he got plenty of reps with the first team during OTA’s, Exum, Jr. had some impressive plays last season and could definitely be in the running to play across from Smith. I have some issues with Blanton’s tackling, and I wouldn’t say that he’s a shoo-in.


Zach Line

With Jerome Felton heading to Buffalo (I still wonder if he regrets that decision now that AP will be with the Vikings), Zach Line has a huge opportunity ahead of him. Line is currently projected as the starting fullback for Minnesota, and I’m a believer that he’ll be an excellent fit there. Line impressed me last season, continuing to work hard and fulfill whatever role he was given on the team, including practice squad. The Southern Methodist alum makes an impact at practice, and the Vikings are obviously confident in his abilities to slide into that main roster spot. If Line and Peterson can work well together and build some chemistry, this could be Line’s breakout season.

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Please rank the players in the order you think they will finish. 

Adam: 
1. Adrian Peterson
Here’s a homer pick for you, and I’m okay with that. The last time I doubted Peterson, he shocked us all with his improbable return from injury and put up one historic performance after another. This year, after sitting out for a season by force and wanting to prove himself worthy of another contract extension, I would be terrified to be lined up across from him.

2. Eddie Lacy
This guy is a monster within an offense that isn’t even the primary threat within his own offense. Lacy’s talent and style of play, combined with a potent offense that can give him endless opportunities, makes him very dangerous at any point in any game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him score twenty touchdowns in 2015.

3. Jamaal Charles
With the ability to be the most productive running back in the NFL, both as a rusher and pass catcher, Charles only has his team and coaches to worry about holding him back. That may end up happening, but I wouldn’t bet against Charles as an individual performer no matter which team he’s playing for.

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Lindsey Young with Bud Grant

If you have been reading Vikings Territory over the last couple years, then you are surely aware that our own Lindsey Young is an incredibly talented writer that seems destined for the big time. I said exactly that, in a lot more words, back in April when I turned the tables and featured her in her own “Fan Spotlight” segment.

Since then, Lindsey has continued her great work here at VT, including an incredible interview with the greatest Minnesota Viking of all time, Bud Grant. For the last few weeks, however, the team that keeps this place running has been enthusiastically celebrating the fact that somebody else has noticed Lindsey’s work which has led her to a great opportunity.

Before we get too much farther explaining Lindsey’s great news, I do want to make it clear that she still plans to be a regular contributor here at VT, which makes this whole thing that much better.

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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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