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Lunchbreak: Brothers Recognized for Strong Special Teams Play

Vikings linebacker Kentrell Brothers didn't play any defensive snaps in 2016, but the rookie still found plenty of ways to contribute to the team.

The former fifth-round pick finished third on the Vikings with nine special teams tackles, and was recently highlighted by Pro Football Focus for his strong play.

Brothers was recognized for his work on a pair of special teams units, beginning with his blocking ability on kickoff returns. Brothers helped Minnesota's Cordarrelle Patterson lead the league with a kickoff return average of 31.7 yards.

PFF wrote:

Only player to make two units on the All-PFF Special Teams teams, played all but one of his kick return snaps on the front wall.

Brothers also garnered praise for his punt coverage ability.

Saw the field for the first time in Week 8, playing 43 snaps at left and right wing.

Another Vikings rookie, tight end David Morgan, was recognized for his blocking on kickoff returns. The Vikings were one of seven teams to take a kickoff back for a score in 2016.

View the top 40 Vikings wide receiver photos from 2016.

Thielen, Diggs receive strong 2016 evaluation grades

With the offseason in full swing, Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune is handing out position grades for the Vikings.

Minnesota's wide receivers were the most recent group to be evaluated by Krammer, as a pair of wide outs fared well after strong seasons. 

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs each earned a grade of 3.5 (out of 5) after both came close to cracking the 1,000-yard mark through the air.

Thielen's emergence paired with Stefon Diggs, a fifth-round pick two years ago, gives Sam Bradford a potent duo moving forward. Diggs and Thielen … produced 71 percent of yardage at their position.

Krammer offered statistical tidbits and his thoughts on each receiver's season.

On Thielen, a former undrafted free agent, Krammer wrote:

*Led receivers with 786 snaps (74.7 percent) in a breakout season. Fell just 33 yards short of becoming the franchise's first 1,000-yard receiver in seven years. Led the Vikings with 967 receiving yards. Added five touchdowns. Showed excellent hands and routes just three years removed from going undrafted out of Minnesota State-Mankato. One of the league's most effective downfield targets, despite being in a limited offense. Led the team with 16 plays of 20-plus yards. Nearly set the Vikings' single-game receiving record with 202 yards on 12 grabs in Green Bay. Continued to contribute on special teams, stepping in as a punt returner for Marcus Sherels. *

Diggs set career highs in catches and yards following a standout rookie season Krammer wrote:

*In his second NFL season, Diggs moved around the formation and started lining up in the slot more. He gained mismatches that helped him pick up 285 receiving yards in his first two games — from Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford. Continued to grow as the group's most promising talent. Led the Vikings in receptions (84) and receiving yards per game (69.5) despite missing three games to injuries, which led to a vow to be more available next season. Played 693 snaps [65.9%]. Produced 903 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after his 182-yard outing vs. the Packers. Set an NFL record with consecutive 13-catch games, doing so in losses to the Lions and Redskins. Did not fumble. *

Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had the next-highest grade at 2.5 after he caught 52 passes for 453 yards and a pair of scores.

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