2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Despite major progress, Vikings must prove more

By DAVE CAMPBELL - AP Pro Football Writer
    2013-07-23 13:03

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Vikings have reached a crossroad, coming off a remarkable season during which they improved by seven victories, made the playoffs and watched Adrian Peterson transition from ACL rehab patient to MVP award winner.

Slip back a bit, and 2013 will likely be widely viewed as a disappointment. To pick up where their progress left off last year, though, the Vikings will need just as much to go right as in that surprising 2012 season. Similar to last year, when they were coming off a 3-13 mess, the Vikings have again set out amid skepticism from analysts and fans about whether they're built to stay on a title-contending track.

By the end of 2013, they'll know whether last season was simply a fluke or a foundation for the future.

``Super Bowl: I know that's the goal as a group,'' Peterson said at the end of minicamp. ``I feel like we've got the right pieces in place. Everyone has that vision in their mind.''

Five things to know about the Vikings as camp begins:

1. PONDERING THE FUTURE: Christian Ponder will be the starter when the Vikings open at Detroit on Sept. 8. But he has a lot to prove before his status is ensured for next year, let alone for the rematch against the Lions that wraps up the regular season on Dec. 29. This time, the Vikings have a better option as a backup in Matt Cassel. General manager Rick Spielman has often said he needs three years to evaluate quarterbacks, bringing the former first-round draft pick into a crucial window. Not only does Ponder have a stronger offensive line, his receivers have been upgraded over that span, too, despite the departure of the do-it-all Percy Harvin. Greg Jennings was signed from Green Bay to be the leader, Jerome Simpson was brought back on another low-risk one-year contract and Cordarrelle Patterson was selected with the third of three late first-round draft picks. Tight end Kyle Rudolph, the Pro Bowl MVP, will also be relied on even more as a down-field weapon. ``Christian, I'm excited. He's a great quarterback. He's going to shock people,'' Jennings said last month.

2. ALL DAY CAN GO ALL YEAR: Peterson left no doubt about his determination, focus and seemingly superhuman skills by returning from reconstructive surgery on his left knee to rush for 2,097 yards, 9 short of the NFL record. If Ponder can improve, the Vikings offense should be more balanced, which would make cracking the 2,000-yard mark again even more challenging for Peterson. But he's one of the rare players for whom any feat seems possible.

3. UNDER THE DOME: The Vikings have long enjoyed a significant advantage under the noisy Metrodome's roof on the spongy artificial turf, but this is their last year in the quirky, outdated stadium. They'll play two seasons outside at the University of Minnesota before opening their new indoor venue in 2016. They'll also have one fewer home game this fall, too, when they ``host'' the Pittsburgh Steelers in London on Sept. 29.

4. THE NEW DEAL, ON THE DEFENSIVE LINE: The front four has long been a strength of this franchise, from the Alan Page-led Purple People Eaters to the era of Hall of Fame pass rushers Chris Doleman and John Randle to the current group led by Jared Allen. But Allen, fellow defensive ends Everson Griffen and Brian Robison and stalwart defensive tackle Kevin Williams have all begun the final year of their current contracts. Given age, productivity and salary cap factors, envisioning all of them still around in 2014 is all but impossible. So not only will these guys need to re-establish their worth, for either their present employer or other teams on the open market, but the Vikings themselves must make some important decisions about who to invest in for the future. First-round draft pick Sharrif Floyd is in line to replace Williams, a six-time Pro Bowl pick.

5. STILL UNDER SIDELINE SCRUTINY: Despite the feel-good vibe and vast improvement he helped produce last season, Leslie Frazier hasn't yet secured his future with the franchise. The Vikings routinely exercised their option for 2014 on his contract, but since coaches rarely enter the final year of a deal without an extension, this is another prove-it season for Frazier, a subject he has tread carefully around in public.

---

Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

---

Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Dez BryantFeb 26 09:03a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is likely to receive the franchise tag because the team is hesitant to sign him long term due to a lack of trust off [ More ]

Peyton ManningFeb 25 09:23p

The Denver Broncos and representatives for QB Peyton Manning are working on revising the veteran's contract, according to multiple league sources. He is scheduled to draw a $19 million [ More ]

Reggie BushFeb 25 05:33p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush has been cut Wednesday, Feb. 25.

A.J. HawkFeb 25 04:43p

Green Bay Packers LB A.J. Hawk was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move will save them $3.5 million against the salary cap in 2015.

Jacoby JonesFeb 25 12:33p

Baltimore Ravens WR Jacoby Jones was released Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Peyton HillisFeb 25 10:43a

New York Giants RB Peyton Hillis was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move saves $945,000 on the 2015 salary cap.

Dez BryantFeb 24 10:33p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant's NFL career could be in jeopardy if a video he allegedly appears is as bad as it sounds. A source said the 'incriminating video [ More ]

Jake LongFeb 24 09:23p

The St. Louis Rams are likely to release OT Jake Long this offseason for savings against the salary cap, according to beat writer Nick Wagoner.

Mathias KiwanukaFeb 24 03:33p

New York Giants DE Mathias Kiwanuka has been released Tuesday, Feb. 24.

DeAngelo WilliamsFeb 24 12:23p

Free-agent RB DeAngelo Williams (Panthers) said he was not upset when the Carolina Panthers told him last week that he'd be released. Williams told Charlotte's WBTV that DE Greg [ More ]

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's father denied a report that Peterson no longer wants to play for Minnesota. Peterson's father said Peterson is still open to a return to [ More ]

Ted Ginn Jr.Feb 23 04:53p

Arizona Cardinals WR Ted Ginn Jr. was released Monday, Feb. 23.

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's situation with the team worsened during the NFL scouting combine as his agent and members of Minnesota's front office had a heated verbal altercation, [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 21 10:22a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) looks good as he continues to recover from a torn right pateller tendon in his knee, according to general manager Jerry Reese. [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIFeb 20 02:52p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will enter the 2015 season as the team's starting quarterback, and general manager Bruce Allen thinks Griffin's ceiling in the NFL remains high. [ More ]

Devonta FreemanFeb 20 08:42a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman fits well in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'My first impression: I can feel the quickness,' Quinn said [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 19 07:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) may commence running shortly, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz is recovering from a torn right patellar tendon in his right knee.

Andre EllingtonFeb 19 05:12p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) remains the focal point of the offense, according to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Ellington split the injured tendon in his left foot, [ More ]

C.J. AndersonFeb 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson finished the year as the team's No. 1 running back and made the Pro Bowl, but new head coach Gary Kubiak said Anderson must [ More ]

James CaseyFeb 19 02:22p

Philadelphia Eagles TE James Casey has been released.

Reggie WayneFeb 19 01:52p

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent WR Reggie Wayne has not informed the Colts on if he wants to play again next season, according to general manager Ryan Grigson.

Marshawn LynchFeb 19 01:02p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch continues to ponder if he'll return for another season, and general manager John Schneider said he wouldn't be surprised if Lynch chose to retire. [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerFeb 19 03:13a

Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger has the backing of the coaching staff, but they have not committed to him as the starter for 2015. General manager Ruston Webster said [ More ]

Jay CutlerFeb 18 02:53p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler did not receive a vote of confidence from head coach John Fox. Fox said the team is still evaluating the position. Fox said he [ More ]

Charles JohnsonFeb 18 02:53p

Minnesota Vikings WR Charles X. Johnson is 'far and away our best receiver,' according to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Johnson emerged as QB Teddy Bridgewater's No. 1 target in [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIFeb 18 01:23p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will go into the season as the team's starting starting quarterback, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Michael CrabtreeFeb 18 01:33a

San Francisco 49ers impending free-agent WR Michael Crabtree was frustrated with his role at the end of last season, and he recently removed any mention of the 49ers from [ More ]

Steve JohnsonFeb 18 01:33a

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson might be a clear starting candidate for the 2015 season if impending free-agents WR Anquan Boldin and/or WR Michael Crabtree are not brought [ More ]

Trent RichardsonFeb 17 10:53p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson missed the team's walkthrough and flight for the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots. He was suspended two games without pay for [ More ]

Brennan WilliamsFeb 17 05:33p

Free-agent OT Brennan Williams (Texans) signed an undisclosed deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, Feb. 17.

S. RichardsonFeb 17 03:03p

Free-agent CB Shaquille Richardson (Steelers) recently signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Financial terms were not disclosed.

A.J. JenkinsFeb 17 02:13p

The Kansas City Chiefs waived WR A.J. Jenkins Tuesday, Feb. 17.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group