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Lunchbreak: Cunningham, Hutchinson Among HOF Class of 2019 Nominees

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In August, Randy Moss became the 14th Vikings Legend to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Will another former Viking join him in the upcoming year?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame on Thursday released its list of modern-era nominees for the Class of 2019, and a few names will be familiar to Vikings fans.

Randall Cunningham, one of the stars of the 15-1 Vikings season, joins four other quarterbacks – Dave Krieg, Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Steve McNair – on the list of 91 total players and 11 coaches eligible. The list will be shortened to 25 in November and 15 finalists in January.

Five-time Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, who played for the Vikings from 2006-11, is among the offensive line nominees after being first added last year.

Four first-time candidates in this year’s pool of nominees are TE Tony Gonzalez, LB London Fletcher, CB Champ Bailey and S Ed Reed.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman’s brother Chris, who played linebacker for eight seasons in Detroit and two with Buffalo, also was nominated.

Fans can vote for their favorite candidates here.

After missing Week 1, Alexander eager to return to action

After being forced to watch the Vikings Week 1 win from the sidelines, Mackensie Alexander returned from injury to practice this week and is looking forward to traveling to Green Bay to face the Packers.

Tim Yotter of Viking Update recently wrote about Alexander and the impact he could make on Sunday’s game. Yotter wrote:

Alexander expects to play and expects his coverage most often to focus on Randall Cobb, Green Bay’s primary slot receiver.

“They move him around a lot,” Alexander said of Cobb, who racked up 142 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Packers comeback win over the Bears last weekend. “If he’s there in the slot, I’ll be on him. If he’s not, I’ll do my job regardless.”

“He made a bunch of explosive plays for his team. He’s a guy we definitely have to worry about and do our job against him and do a great job,” Alexander added. “Do what we do each and every week, and we’ll be fine. He’s a competitor. They’re going to try to find him and give him the ball.”

With Alexander out for the Vikings season opener with an ankle injury, [Mike] Hughes took over the nickel back duties at the beginning of the game. He ended up with an interception he returned for a touchdown, but there were times his inexperience in [Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer’s] defense showed up, too.

Yotter wrote that nickel back is “one of the hardest positions to learn in Zimmer’s defense” and said that if Alexander is healthy, “experience seems to be the difference maker.”

Cronin: Vikings don’t need ‘flawless’ Cousins

Kirk Cousins has his first regular-season game – and first win – under his belt as he heads into Lambeau for the Border Battle this weekend.

ESPN’s Courtney Cronin looked back at Cousins’ Week 1 performance and called it “a tale of two halves,” pointing out that the quarterback looked “dominant” in the first two quarters and had “ups and downs” on the back end.

Cronin referenced ESPN Stats & Information and said that it was the first time in Cousins’ career to attempt at least one fourth-quarter pass and fail to have a completion. She wrote:

Among the biggest takeaways from Cousins’ debut is that he doesn't need to play flawless for the Vikings to win. Playing with the backing of the No. 1 defense in the NFL is a luxury Cousins hasn’t been afforded until now – one that will pay dividends for the QB as he continues to get his footing in the offense.

[…]

Evaluating how well a quarterback performs in the fourth quarter doesn’t point to [his] entire body of work. What it does is provide coaches – especially defensive-minded ones – with the knowledge of how conservatively they have to approach things when a win might be on the line and shows how their QB can perform under pressure.

Cronin quoted Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who pointed out that several factors are involved in a quarterback’s play at the end of the game.

She then delved into Cousins’ 12 career game-winning drives that he’s led either in the fourth quarter or overtime, dating back to Week 14 of the 2012 season, when Cousins stepped in for an injured Robert Griffin III with 45 seconds remaining in regulation.

Cousins was fifth in the league last year in fourth-quarter pass attempts, and with the Vikings defense, that number should go down considerably. In any event, the markings of good fourth-quarter performances, whether the game is on the line or Cousins is managing a comfortable lead, boil down to principles of situational football.

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