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For a Viking fan who hasn’t kept up with any of the offseason changes, how would you describe the new product they would be seeing on the first preseason game?
-- Charles D.
The most recognizable change fans will see in this year’s Vikings squad is the defense. There have been significant changes to this side of the ball, both from a personnel standpoint and in terms of scheme and style. This year’s Vikings defense will feature a blend of returning contributors –
On offense, many of last year’s contributors will return. But the biggest change will come at the top, with Norv Turner in place as offensive coordinator. Turner brings with him to Minnesota a wealth of experience and success while guiding NFL offenses. His offenses have produced the NFL’s leading rusher five times, which is good news for
How are the linebackers shaping out with the mentoring of Mike Zimmer? Who do you see as being starters and what positions and formations do you believe we will be running?
-- Joshua S.
It's a young group of linebackers, for sure. But they are coming along nicely and I'm anxious to see how the competition for spots on the depth chart unfolds during training camp and in the preseason. There's no question the presence of Zimmer helps this group. But it should also be noted that Greenway provides great mentorship for this group, as well, as do both linebackers coach Adam Zimmer (Mike's son) and defensive coordinator George Edwards, a linebacker coach by trade. With talent on the field, a leader in Greenway and great teachers in the three aforementioned coaches, the Vikings young but athletic linebacker group will make huge strides during camp and will go from a question mark to a strength by season's end.
As for starters and formations, that is all up in the air. In base defense, I expect
I've heard a lot about players that are expected to make the leap in 2014. But I haven't heard a lot about how Harrison Smith is going to do. Do you think he is going to also make a leap from good defender to a great defender?
Yes, I do anticipate a big-time season from Smith in 2014.He is not a one-trick pony at safety – he can bring the hammer in the run game, he can blitz, and he can cover. This versatility will allow the Vikings defensive staff to put Smith in a lot of different positions, and as such I feel Smith will be a key player for the Vikings in 2014.
Which undrafted free agents do you believe have the best chance to stick this year based upon talent and perceived need?
-- Mitch K.
Los Angeles, CA
It’s far too early to offer water-tight predictions on this matter, but in an effort to entertain the question I will submit two names to watch closely once we get to Mankato for training camp. The first is
Let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be. Below are the players drafted from the fifth round through the seventh round, with a one-liner for each…
OL David Yankey – Came in late because of Pac-12 rules, but projects to compete for a starting spot during camp and at worst will be a valuable swing reserve capable of playing multiple positions.
DB Jabari Price – Had an impressive spring at Winter Park and seems to be picking up the mental part of the game quickly; anxious to see more of him during training camp.