Another week, another round of positive rankings turned up for the Vikings.
This time, NFL.com's Marc Sessler ranked NFL **backfields from 1 to 32** and placed the Vikings at third, behind Philadelphia, which imported 2014 rushing champ DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, and Seattle, which received a boost not only from "Beast Mode" Marshawn Lynch but also the ground gains of QB Russell Wilson.
Sessler noted the "moving target" nature of rankings in June 16, but said "Adrian Peterson — the best running back of our generation — is enough to lift the Vikings into the top five."
*"I have no reason to doubt that he will be any less of a force come September. He actually finds himself in a much better offense now, with young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater throwing the ball to Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson and Kyle Rudolph. Even when teams stack the box, though, Peterson remains the most successful runner in NFL history against eight-man fronts." *
Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson told NFL.com's Around The NFL last week that "Peterson could see fewer snaps this season.
"No question that the workload will be a lot more balanced than in the past because the organization has done an outstanding job of acquiring talent and other explosive pieces," Wilson said, emphasizing that he was talking about fewer snaps, not carries.
That might mean more third-down work for Jerick McKinnon, the second-year back who Wilson called "an NFL starter-caliber runner" and "a premier, dynamic playmaker that you can count on every Sunday for X amount of plays." Peterson still remains a top candidate to lead the league in rushing after Wilson noted that A.P. has been "extremely explosive" in practice and "still has electric foot speed," saying: "I don't see any difference from the guy who left here (nine) months ago."
In addition to Peterson and McKinnon, the Vikings are returning Matt Asiata and Joe Banyard and brought in DuJuan Harris via free agency.
The Bears came in at ninth, on the heels and hands of do-everything back Matt Forte. The Packers were ranked at 14th and Lions at 24th. Sessler gave more points to more experienced players than rookies, so Chicago's drafting of Jeremy Langford, Green Bay's signing of undrafted rookie John Crockett and Detroit's selection of Ameer Abdullah might not be receiving their full worth.
Two sides of a coin
There's been much consideration of what Peterson's return will mean to second-year pro Teddy Bridgewater, who did not take the field with the running back during his rookie season, but Judd Zulgad of 1500 ESPN.com **flipped the conversation** to the other side of the coin to ponder what Bridgewater's development and position as the undisputed starter might mean for Peterson.
*No, I haven't lost my mind and, no, I'm not anointing Bridgewater as a top-10 quarterback, or a lock to make the Pro Bowl in his second NFL season. But I think we all can agree that Bridgewater showed enough development in 13 games as a rookie that there should be reason for optimism. Ideally, the Vikings will take a significant step toward turning into Bridgewater's team in 2015. *
*Peterson was drafted by the Vikings in 2007, and has put together a career that will land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. But he has done it without having had an extended stint with a quarterback who made his life easier. *
Zulgad noted what Brett Favre's arrival and Sidney Rice's downfield threat provided for Peterson in 2009 when he had 1,383 rushing yards and a career-best 18 rushing TDs to go along with a career-high 43 receptions for 436 yards. He wondered how Bridgewater's development and the threat that Mike Wallace is expected to provide could further impact Peterson.
If Bridgewater can begin to display the consistency that so many Vikings quarterback have lacked during the Peterson era, the veteran should find more open room to operate than he has become accustomed to seeing during much of his career in purple.
New home receives its name, U.S. Bank Stadium
The name of the Vikings new stadium, U.S. Bank Stadium, that is more than 50 percent complete and on track to open July 2016 was announced Monday by the Minneapolis-based financial institution and the team. The partnership includes establishment of "Places to Play" statewide grants that will be distributed for multiple years.
Here are links to coverage of the announcement of the partnership: