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Lunchbreak: Cousins, Diggs Ranked Among Top 'New QB-Pass Catcher Duos'

Kirk Cousins has been working to build chemistry with his new receivers since signing with Minnesota in March as a free agent.

Cousins will be throwing plenty to the Vikings starting receivers, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, the latter of whom signed an extension earlier this week.

NFL.com's Gil Brandt recently predicted "the most productive new QB-pass catcher duos," and he included Cousins-Diggs fourth on his list, saying that 2018 has been "a great year so far" for fourth-year receiver. Brandt wrote:

Things should only get better for Diggs once he and Cousins take the field together this fall. Diggs is quick and tough to cover, and new [Offensive Coordinator] John DeFilippo will line him up all over the field, in addition to getting him more downfield opportunities. Cousins, meanwhile, is a very accurate and experienced quarterback who is no doubt eager to prove he's worth the monster contract he signed this offseason.

Coming in ahead of the Vikings duo on Brandt's list were former Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford and Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald, Rams headliners Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks, and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham.

And the four pairs after Cousins and Diggs?

Brandt listed Washington's Alex Smith and Josh Doctson, Cleveland's Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry, Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes and Sammy Watkins, and Chicago's Mitch Trubisky and Allen Robinson.

Vikings Legend included in Mark Craig's NFL 'Mount Rushmore'

This weekend, Randy Moss will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, bringing the number of players who spent most of their careers with the Vikings honored at Canton to 14.

Countless esteemed players have played in the NFL; some have made it to the Hall of Fame, while others may have the distinction in their future.

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune on Wednesday released his "Mount Rushmore" of the NFL, identifying his four favorite players of all time. Included on the list was a name that will be quite familiar to Vikings fans: Alan Page, a member of the vaunted Purple People Eaters, one of the most dominant defensive lines in league history. Craig wrote:

I wanted a top defender and a guy who represents the best possible role model of what an NFL player can be during and long after his playing career. The greatest Viking and long-time Minnesota Supreme Court justice fits rather nicely.

Craig's other three selections were George Halas, Jim Brown and Tom Brady, the latter being the only current player on his list.

In a separate article, Craig spoke with members of the Vikings to see who their NFL "Mount Rushmore" would be.

Former Vikings defensive line coach and current personnel consultant Paul Wiggin named Paul Brown, Jim Brown, Chuck Bednarik and Barry Sanders to his list.

"I played for Paul in Cleveland," Wiggin told Craig. "Best teacher I've ever been around."

Craig also asked Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer to identify his four, favorite all-time players. The first three were identified quickly: Vince Lombardi, Deion Sanders and Joe Montana.

Here's where Zimmer had to call timeout to gather his thoughts.

"And then you could say Jerry Rice and Emmitt [Smith]," he said. "And Lawrence Taylor, too, I guess."

What, no Parcells?

"I'll put Bill on one end and Lombardi on the other," said the Parcells protégé.

Bower progressing on the gridiron while processing grief

The Vikings were struck by a tragedy just days before the opening of training camp, when offensive line coach Tony Sparano passed away unexpectedly.

It's been a time of processing for the entire team, to be sure, but second-year defensive end Tashawn Bower has dealt with a significant amount of loss in a short period of time. Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN spoke with Bower, whose former wrestling coach Bobby Jeans and high school assistant football coach Michael Cleary each passed away within the past two months.

"It just happened back-to-back-to-back," Bower told Coller. "It really puts things in perspective about life and how fast it can be and how fast people can go and how you should really take the time out of your day to just say hello or to check on someone because you never know when you'll get to talk to them again."

Coller wrote:

Following a summer of tragedy, the young defensive lineman is tasked with competing for a job. After winning a roster spot in last year's camp and seeing a touch of NFL action in 2017, he has an opportunity to earn a position as a rotational pass rusher. But the loss of people close to him is tough to shake.

"You just wish you said hello or something like that," Bower told Coller. "Anything just to see how they're doing because you never know when someone's last day is … it's hard because you're out here on the field competing, and you just have to focus on the white lines."

But Bower is continuing to push through and play the game he's passionate about, and his progress has been evident. Coller quoted Zimmer, who told media this week that Bower is "getting better every day."

"He's a lot stronger and more physical now," Zimmer said. "He's still working on the really good techniques that Andre [Patterson] teaches, so it's still little steps as we go. But he's doing a good job."

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