2015 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

Richard RodgersJul 1 05:03p

Green Bay Packers TE Richard Rodgers could see more playing time in 2015, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Rodgers played 528 snaps, while fellow TE Andrew Quarless played [ More ]

Rob HouslerJun 30 03:13p

Cleveland Browns TEs Gary Barnidge, Rob Housler and Jim Dray could all end up taking over for TE Jordan Cameron, who is now with the Miami Dolphins. Head coach [ More ]

Sam BradfordJun 29 05:22p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) is expected to be in the final phase of his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament once training camp begins. Bradford's second [ More ]

Charles JohnsonJun 29 02:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Charles X. Johnson appears to have everything it takes to produce in the NFL, according to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. 'He's got great work ethic, and [ More ]

C.J. SpillerJun 28 09:02p

New Orleans Saints RB C.J. Spiller has a perfect skill-set for head coach Sean Payton's system, which relies on getting the ball to players in space, according Chris Wesseling [ More ]

Tony MoeakiJun 25 07:12p

Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Moeaki will compete with TE Jacob Tamme for the Falcons' starting tight end job during training camp. QB Matt Ryan praised both tight ends for [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJun 25 03:52p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin's reported weight gain this offseason is being overblown, according to general manager Dave Gettleman. Gettleman expects Benjamin to be ready to go for training [ More ]

Antoine CasonJun 25 03:03a

Free-agent CB Antoine Cason (foot) will miss the 2015 season due to surgery he underwent on Tuesday, June 23. Cason (Ravens) did not specify what type of surgery he [ More ]

Marvin JonesJun 24 09:13p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Marvin Jones (ankle, foot) did not play in 2014 due to multiple foot and ankle issues, but he is healthy and was impressive in organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp.

Keith WenningJun 24 02:43p

Free-agent QB Keith Wenning (Ravens) signed with the Cincinnati Bengals Wednesday, June 24. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Pierre GarconJun 24 02:23p

Washington Redskins WR Pierre Garcon could be featured more often in the passing game this season based on the offseason workouts. Garcon often lined up to the right of [ More ]

Martavis BryantJun 24 01:43p

Pittsburgh Steelers WRs Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant are expected to compete for the No. 2 wide receiver job during training camp. Both players performed well during offseason workouts.

Peyton ManningJun 24 11:53a

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning was the subject of preliminary trade discussions with the Houston Texans, according to a source. The talks occurred before Manning restructured his deal and [ More ]

Rueben RandleJun 24 10:53a

New York Giants WR Rueben Randle was the best receiver on the field by a wide margin during spring practices, in the opinion of beat writer Jordan Ranaan. Randle [ More ]

Chris IvoryJun 24 10:43a

New York Jets RB Chris Ivory is listed as the starting running back entering training camp, according to beat writer Rich Cimini's unofficial depth chart. RB Bilal Powell is [ More ]

Devonta FreemanJun 23 10:22a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman enters training camp ahead of RB Tevin Coleman on the depth chart.

Joseph RandleJun 23 10:02a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle appears to be the clear leader at running back, and it's his job to lose in training camp.

Ahmad BradshawJun 22 11:32p

Free-agent RB Ahmad Bradshaw (Colts) has been suspended one game for violation of the league's substance abuse policy. If he signs with a team he must sit out for the first week.

Terrelle PryorJun 22 04:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Terrelle Pryor was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns Monday, June 22, according to a source.

Fred DavisJun 19 06:02p

New England Patriots TE Fred Davis was released Friday, June 19.

Dennis PittaJun 19 02:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) was not medically cleared to practice in minicamp as he continues to recover from his second dislocated and fractured hip in as many [ More ]

Isaiah CrowellJun 19 01:22p

Cleveland Browns RB Isaiah Crowell could be the workhorse back if his ball security improves, according to offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

Devonta FreemanJun 19 01:12p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman will be used in a lot of different ways, including as a receiver, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'I knew Devonta had terrific [ More ]

Chris OgbonnayaJun 19 11:32a

Free-agent RB Chris Ogbonnaya (Giants) announced his retirement Friday, June 19.

John MoffittJun 18 11:02p

Free-agent OG John Moffitt unretired Wednesday, June 17, and cleared waivers Thursday, June 18. He is free to sign with a team of his choosing. The Philadelphia Eagles, Miami [ More ]

Terrelle PryorJun 18 09:32p

Free-agent QB Terrelle Pryor is going to give it a shot at playing wide receiver in the NFL. Some teams have already expressed an interest.

Allen RobinsonJun 18 09:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson was described as 'unbelievable' by QB Blake Bortles Thursday, June 18. 'He's definitely a threat now in the red zone. ... He's physical. He [ More ]

Terrelle PryorJun 18 05:32p

Cincinnati Bengals QB Terrelle Pryor was waived Thursday, June 18.

Taylor ThompsonJun 18 05:32p

Tennesse Titans TE Taylor Thompson was waived Thursday, June 18.

Matthew MulliganJun 18 04:32p

Free-agent TE Matthew Mulligan (Titans) signed an undisclosed contract with the Buffalo Bills Thursday, June 18.

Carlton MitchellJun 18 04:22p

Free-agent WR Carlton Mitchell (Buccaneers) signed an undisclosed contract with the Atlanta Falcons Thursday, June 18. WR Shane Wynn was waived.

Daniel ThomasJun 18 04:12p

Free-agent RB Daniel Thomas (Dolphins) signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears Thursday, June 18. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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