Monday, February 27, 2017

rhett ellison

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Kyle Rudolph
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Our first installment of our Vikings Free Agency Primer series: The Tight Ends

It’s the time of year to start speculating (and gently trying to nudge Rick Spielman in the right direction) about the fixes for a roster that lost as many games as it won in 2016. Obviously, health is a major part of their past failures and future (hopefully) successes, but the 2017 version of the Minnesota Vikings will not be turnover-free.

Thus, the Vikings Territory team is taking a position-by-position look at the current talent, contract situations, and potential moves that could make some sense heading into next season. We may even plant our flags with a prediction or two along the way.

First up, I’ve decided to take on one of my favorite positions to watch in the modern NFL. Tight ends can be such a factor in the run game, in pass protection, and as an attacking target that they seem to be becoming more and more important to today’s offenses.

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Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen Dominate Offensive Play Rankings

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Unfortunately, the offseason has started a little earlier than the Minnesota Vikings would have hoped.

While Minnesota ended its season on about as high of a note as it could have with a dominating 38-10 victory at home over the Chicago Bears, the Vikings will be watching the postseason from their couches as the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions compete for a Super Bowl.

The worst-case scenario has been engaged with the happiness of Vikings fans now in the hands of the Seattle Seahawks and, more so, the New York Giants — a pair of teams that are certainly capable of bringing peace and harmony back to Vikings Territory in one fell swoop this weekend.

There is not a single Vikings fan in the world who is happy to see the offseason arrive so soon, but there are a few benefits to this heartbreaking situation:

  1. Vikings have extra time to prepare for a critical NFL Draft and Free Agency period
  2. Vikings won’t control your happiness on Sundays for roughly 9 months
  3. Excellent offseason content from your favorite source, Vikings Territory

With a dark cloud currently hovering over Mike Zimmer’s kingdom, the best place to start the Vikings Territory offseason content cycle may very well be through a series of articles highlighting the most thrilling and critical moments and performances that we shared together throughout this rollercoaster ride of a 2016 season:

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Image courtesy of vikings.com

The downward spiral continued Sunday as the Detroit Lions upset the Minnesota Vikings 22-16 at US Bank Stadium. Matt Prater kicked a 58-yard field goal for the Lions (5-4) to force overtime shortly after the Vikings (5-3) took a 16-13 lead with just 23 seconds to play in regulation.

Mathew Stafford connected with Golden Tate for the game winning 28-yard touchdown on the opening drive of overtime to end the contest.

Stafford threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns, but the Vikings actually produced more first downs and out-gained the Lions 337 to 311 net yards. An inability to capitalize in the red zone, poor third down defense, a block field goal and a missed extra point was the storyline behind the Vikings defeat.

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Waive TE MyCole Pruitt
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Injuries have a way of influencing the way teams operate both on and off the field. The balance between sufficient depth and play-making potential is often put to the test when faced with a lengthy injury report.

After weaving through a multitude of high-impact injuries, the Minnesota Vikings were forced to make a difficult decision in an effort to field a 53-man roster that boasts talent, depth, and stability.

The Vikings announced they have activated Taylor Heinicke from their non-football injury list, and, in order to clear a roster spot for the former Old Dominion quarterback, the team waived tight end MyCole Pruitt.

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Stefon Diggs Will Start vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings enter Week 7 armed with arguably their most dangerous offensive weapon, Stefon Diggs. A groin/hamstring injury kept Diggs out of Minnesota’s last game, but the second-year receiver will start as the Vikings look to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles.

With Laquon Treadwell (thumb) and Jarius Wright (ankle) inactive, Diggs should see plenty of play in the Vikings’ new-look, hurry-up offense. It’s an encouraging sign that Diggs is starting, indicating he’s close to full health. In addition to Treadwell and Wright, the Vikings will sit five other players:

Sharrif Floyd continues to work his way back from an early season knee procedure. MyCole Pruitt injured his knee in Week 5 but is expected to return soon.

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