The Hall of Fame Game between Arizona and Dallas Thursday night signified the return of another NFL season.
With excitement surrounding this year's newest Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, NFL.com's Elliot Harrison shared who he would put on his ballot for the next five HOF classes. Harrison included three former Vikings on his lineups for 2018, 2020 and 2022.
Looking ahead to next year, Harrison said that Randy Moss should be inducted. We covered Harrison's case for Moss* *earlier this week. Harrison also added Steve Hutchinson and Jared Allen to future classes.
Harrison opined that Hutchinson, who played guard for the Vikings from 2006-11, would be an appropriate selection for 2020.
*Hutchinson racked up seven Pro Bowl nods with the Seahawks and Vikings, paving the way for Shaun Alexander in Seattle and then Adrian Peterson in Minnesota to put up huge numbers. Notably, Alexander's production went way down once Hutchinson left him. He was a steady performer for both teams, with peer respect around the league bringing Hutchinson's name to the forefront. *
For the hypothetical 2021 ballot, Harrison penciled in Allen's name. The defensive end joined the Vikings in 2009 via trade. Over his 12-season career with Kansas City, Minnesota, Chicago and Carolina, Allen racked up 642 tackles (498 solo), 136 sacks, 32 forced fumbles, 19 fumble recoveries and four safeties.
*Another deserving pass rusher who, like [DeMarcus] Ware, was remarkably steady. Also like Ware, Allen posted double-digit sack totals in eight of his first 10 seasons in the league. In 2011, he almost set a new single-season record with 22 – if only he'd had help from Brett Favre. *
Allen did play in a Super Bowl in his final stop, at Carolina, but by that time, the outdoorsman was thinking about hanging 'em up. Allen had already racked up 136 sacks (11th), five Pro Bowls and four first-team All-Pro nods. What more did he need to accomplish individually? More than that, Allen's high motor is damn near legendary. The guy was all heart, with a perfect blend of lightheartedness.
Tom Johnson wants to be more than just a pass rusher
In his three seasons thus far in Minnesota, defensive tackle Tom Johnson has gained a reputation for being a talented pass rusher.
But he wants to be more than that.
Andrew Krammer caught up with Johnson during training camp this week and talked to the 33-year-old about his goals for this season. Krammer wrote:
Johnson's career has taken on many transformations since joining the Vikings three years ago. This summer is no different. This time he's been leading the rotation at defensive tackle next to Linval Joseph while the Vikings know Sharrif Floyd is unavailable. To stay there, Johnson wants to prove he's just as capable against the run as well as he's known for taking down quarterbacks.
Johnson said he's been called "old" since the age of 29, but he doesn't listen to the naysayers.
"Being in the situation I've been in, the way my career has gone, I've had to prove myself over and over and over and over again," Johnson told Krammer. "They trust me in all situations. So it gives me a chance to display everything. After this year, you won't be able to categorize me as either/or."
The Vikings at times struggled defensively against the run and are focused at finding more success there in 2017. Johnson is personally dedicated to continue improving in that area, as well.
"It's a stereotype I guess just because I've had such more success as a pass rusher as opposed to run stopper," Johnson told Krammer. "If you look at stats, look at the film, look at how they've given me more opportunities to stop the run — you've seen me progressively get better."