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Lunch Break, June 11: Vikings Make Biggest Jump in Roster Rankings

Vikings GM Rick Spielman consistently states that building a NFL roster is a never-ending process. That process of late in Minnesota has included a trade for WR Mike Wallace, the signings of free agents such as QB Shaun Hill, S Taylor Mays and CB Terence Newman, and the selection of 10 draft picks in May, including a pair – CB Trae Waynes and LB Eric Kendricks – who could be Week 1 starters in Mike Zimmer's defense.

A lot of work has been done, and remains to be done, by Spielman, Zimmer and their staffs and the true dividends are manifested in wins once the regular season begins. For now, though, praise from analysts can serve as affirmation that what the Vikings have done to improve the roster is indeed working.

ESPN.com has teamed with the crew at Pro Football Focus to rank every NFL roster 1-32, and the Vikings came in ranked 8th. If you're not an ESPN Insider you cannot access the link, but 1500ESPN's Andrew Krammer summarized the Vikings ranking in this piece and noted that the Vikings 21-spot jump from their previous spot to No. 8 is the biggest jump in the NFL.

Added Krammer: "The Vikings are entering the second year under coach *Mike Zimmer and look to build off a jump from the leagues' worst scoring defense to 11th, as well as Teddy Bridgewater's trajectory with Adrian Peterson in the mix again. With seven first-round picks from 2012 through 2014, the Vikings expected a young core to come along together and now the bar is set high for the likes of Matt KalilXavier RhodesHarrison SmithSharrif FloydCordarrelle Patterson and Anthony Barr.*"

For a while, the Vikings had been a team going under the radar and rarely considered to be a contender within their own division let alone in the NFC or the NFL. Of late, though, the Vikings have been getting love, largely due to the return of Adrian Peterson. MMQB's Peter King pegged the Vikings at No. 6 in his recent NFL Power Rankings and now the folks at PFF are bullish on the Vikings roster with their No. 8 ranking.

Adrian Peterson fine with likelihood of sitting out preseason games again

It's been since the 2014 season opener that RB Adrian Peterson has played in a game for the Vikings. And it sounds like it could be the 2015 season opener, not the 2015 preseason, until he does so again.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press' Chris Tomasson asked Zimmer about the possibility of preseason carries for Peterson this year.

"I probably don't see that, no," Zimmer said Wednesday from the annual Vikings Children's Fund golf tournament. "We're talking in June, so you can't hold me to it, but he's carried the ball a lot (in his eight-year career) and he's going to continue to carry the ball a lot. He'll get plenty of looks and reps in practice."

For his part, Peterson didn't seem to take exception to that notion.

"It's the same as before, nothing new," Peterson said. "I don't think (he'll be pushing to play). They've seen enough of me. I'll be ready to play."

Whatever happens in terms of Peterson's preseason activity, Vikings fans should take solace in knowing that Zimmer has done nothing but pull all the right strings when it comes to major decisions during his 18-month tenure on the job and Peterson has already proven his ability to contribute while coming off long layoffs with his MVP season in 2012 less than a year removed from a major knee injury.

Vikings hope Diggs can 'give some great competition' as returner

When the Vikings report to 2015 training camp, they will have both of the returners on roster from the 2014 (and 2013) season – Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs and Marcus Sherels on punts. But the Vikings aren't in the business of handing out roster spots based solely on past experience. Players will earn their spots, and that includes both Patterson and Sherels, who are coming off solid 2014 seasons and were both sensational in 2013.

The Star Tribune's Matt Vensel writes that rookie is one name to watch in terms of competition for return spots.

"Among the qualities that appealed to the Vikings when they drafted wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the fifth round was his ability as a returner," Vensel wrote. "The problem for the rookie, though, is that the Vikings already have a pair of returners they feel good about in Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels."

Said Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer about the situation: "Stefon can do both. He had a great freshman year at Maryland doing both, tailed off a little bit the next two years, but I think he's got a phenomenal skill set. He'll give some great competition at those spots."

Vensel also noted that both Adam Thielen and Jarius Wright can contribute in the return game, as well. Add those two names to Diggs and then Patterson and Sherels, and it's clear the competition at this spot will be thick.

"We're going to have competition like we do every year," Priefer said.

Quick Hitters
Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf is as optimistic as he's ever been about the Vikings, writes Fox Sports North's Brian Hall.

ESPN's Ben Goessling quotes Zygi Wilf as saying the Vikings new stadium will be "rivaled by none."

Goessling also spoke to LB Chad Greenway, who feels great and is ready to compete to remain a three-down LB.

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