Sunday, August 30, 2015

minnesota vikings

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After spending a week in Mankato at training camp, I’ve seen a lot of Adrian Peterson. No personal interactions, but just observing him on the field, off the field, hanging out with teammates.

I’ve come to decide that he needs (deserves?) a second chance.

Remember earlier this year? I was ready to send Peterson packing. I had no interest in him playing for the Vikings again, and I wanted nothing more than to see him traded to just be done with all the drama.

When the very first report of the abuse incident came out, I had mixed feelings about the situation. I really felt there was a lot of truth to the idea that Peterson didn’t know a whole lot better, that he didn’t have cruel intentions. That it was a cultural/geographical difference in socially acceptable discipline. But still, he did hurt a child and didn’t use much self control.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com - Modified

Our Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings take the field Sunday vs the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game, kicking off what hopes to be 27 straight weeks of football for our favorite team in Purple (do the math). I chimed in with a quick episode recapping a few training camp stories and what I’m going to be looking for Sunday in Canton.

Other “Win one for the Mick” Talking Points Include
• Donald Trump & Mike Priefer both want to “Build a Wall”
• Props to Mick Tinglehoff
• We’re luck to have Paul Allen, Pete Bercich, and Greg Coleman
• The Mike Wallace Bowl?
• This ain’t your father’s Steelers team
• Training Camp quick hits
• Is Anthony Barr’s knee a concern? Should #VikingsTWitter freak out?
• Teddy Bridgewater gun slinging YOLO style Tuesday night
• Teddy has love for Stefon Diggs. Will they see the field together Sunday?
• If NFL coaches were earning $10 a game + a ham sandwich, Mike Zimmer would still be coaching
• Top 5 Guys I’ll Be Watching Sunday (Besides Waynes & Diggs)
-Danielle Hunter (aka Michael Johnson 2.0)
-Eric Kendricks – Can he win the Mike?
-MyCole Pruitt – My new boo (Sorry, Chase Ford)
-Jerick McKinnon – Lighting to Adrian’s Thunder?
-Gerald Hodges – Can HE win the Mike?
• Big shoutouts to our listeners and extra props to our internationals!

All that and other “Green Jacket, Gold Jacket” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

Carl: Wide Receiver
Specifically, Stefon Diggs pushing for slot and punt-return duties. The Vikings are deep at the receiver position, which means there is plenty of competition in a crowded group of pass catchers. Fifth-round pick Diggs has put together a solid camp and is poised to unseat fellow receiver Jarius Wright and punt returner Marcus Sherels for future playing time.

Mike Wallace hasn’t ran more than 100 routes out of the slot in a single season in his career, so with the release of Greg Jennings (who saw plenty of action from the slot last season), it’s likely Diggs, Wright and Adam Thielen who will continue a great battle for coveted slot position reps.

Diggs turned in one of his best performances under the lights on Saturday night at Blakeslee Stadium catching two touchdown passes. The Vikings have also given Diggs some work as a kick and punt returner in camp, after he posted impressive numbers as a return man at Maryland.

Mike Priefer has said Diggs is catching punts better now than he did in college and looks forward to giving him more opportunities as a returner.

Diggs is explosive and can get up field in a hurry once he touches the football. He is a lightning-in-the-bottle type of playmaker who could conceivably take a pre-season punt to the house and turn the pressure up on Vikings’ all-time leading punt returner, Marcus Sherels.

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Training camp is one of my favorite times of the year. It signals the nearing of the regular season, but it’s also a fun atmosphere of seeing new players, different ideas and position battles iron themselves out in a much less pressured situation. This year, I’m spending a week in Mankato, and it’s been a great experience to watch how things have progressed. Here are just a few of my reactions to camp so far:

1. I’m still an Adam Thielen fan
I’ve liked Thielen for the past two years, but this time at camp just solidifies in my mind the threat he really can be if utilized effectively on offense. Thielen has already been used on special teams and I expect to continue seeing Coach Priefer do that; however, I’m really hoping to see him get a chance as a more regular receiver as the season gets underway. Sometimes I think people forget about how fast he is.  The Minnesota native is incredibly quick, a solid route runner, and has been making some impressive catches at camp. During Monday afternoon’s full-pads practice, Thielen was all over the field (in a good way) and caught at least one reception of each of the four quarterbacks. I can’t wait to see how he can be used when the regular season kicks off.

2. I’m still not a Matt Kalil fan
I just can’t get over how much I’m frustrated by Kalil and his lack of production. Granted, I will say that I’ve seen him putting in quite a bit of extra work with assistant offensive line coach Hank Fraley. So, I can’t give a poor grade on effort, at least in that sense. I don’t know if it’s a mental thing, a coachability issue or just lack of talent, but there is still much left wanting from Kalil. He’s still unable to hold guys at the line, and if we’re seeing these issues during camp I don’t have high hopes for them being any different during the year.

3. Adrian Peterson is picking up where he left off
It’s so great to see Adrian Peterson back on the field without all of the drama. I will admit, I had no interest in having Peterson back on the team. In many ways, I was ready to see Minnesota trade him and move on. Being at camp, though, it’s hard to not get excited about the potential the Vikings have with a top running back returning to the lineup. Peterson looks as physically fit and ready to compete as ever. One of the biggest perks of having AP in my mind is the amount of pressure that he will take off Teddy Bridgewater. Although Peterson is obviously nothing new to Minnesota fans, Bridgewater has not been able to play a season with him and experience the difference it will make.

4. Tyrus Thompson is better than expected
Sixth-round draft picks don’t always make the team, but in this case I feel confident that Thompson will have a spot on the roster. The unofficial depth chart released Tuesday slated Thompson as backup right guard behind Harris, and he has also gotten a few reps at tackle with the threes. There have been some ups and downs as there always are with rookies, but overall Thompson is playing with a lot more strength and wherewithal than a sixth-round option. In my mind, the Vikings got a steal and Thompson will develop into a bit part of the Vikings’ roster.

5. There are still questions surrounding linebacker
In all actuality, I think the Vikings have more depth at the linebacker position than they do in a lot of places. The question, however, remains which rotation will work the best for Minnesota. I’ve seen some good things from Audie Cole, who snagged a pick Tuesday evening, I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Gerald Hodges so far, and of course you have Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and veteran Chad Greenway. In all honesty, the biggest disappointment–which I would never have predicted–has been Barr. He seems to be struggling to be 100 percent healthy, and he also looks heavier than last year … and not in a good way. Barr doesn’t seem to have the same hard-working attitude he carried last season, and that worries me. At the end of the day, it will be interesting to see which LBs start and who lines up where.

 

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I had a ton of fun hanging out in Mankato for the weekend at Vikings Training Camp. It was great to meet some previous guests on the show, record a few live podcasts at the Boulder Tap House, and take in our Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings squad from the sidelines. Mentioned this before, but even the more butt-hurt/pessimistic Vikings fans should have reason to believe this year. We have a talented young squad lead by a platoon of teachers and leaders, which is a great combination for sustained success. It was a great experience and big props to Vikings Territory and Vikings PR for helping make it happen. I prattle on about 40 of my observations at Vikings Training Camp.

“Asiata bumped into me and got one yard after contact” Talking Points Include
• Adrian is ready.
• Teddy is a smooth operator, but overly cautious at times.
• Left tackle is the main issue with this team.
• Matt Kalil is a super nice guy. Not sure if he loves football.
• The jury’s gonna be out on Trae Waynes for a while.
• Offensive Line shakeups not over yet.
• An “unconditioned” Anthony Barr is still nuts.
• Right guard may not be decided anytime soon.
• Stefon Diggs is special. Poor man’s Antonio Brown?
• Charles Johnson & Xavier Rhodes have greatly benefited from going at each other every practice.
• Tune in for the other 30 Andy Observations!

All that and other “Love Me Some Mankato” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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