Running back Dalvin Cook is entering his third season in Purple and hoping for a healthy campaign.
After Cook missed most of his rookie season recovering from a torn ACL and then was sidelined for five games in 2018 with a hamstring injury, CBS Sports' Pete Prisco believes the third-year pro is poised for a big 2019 season.
Prisco recently put together his list of 10 "potential breakout stars" for the upcoming season. He wrote:
It's usually players who flashed as rookies later in the season after rough starts, which means they figured it out. Or it's a player who just needs to be healthy to show that star ability.
I predict at least half of these players will find themselves in the Pro Bowl after the season.
Prisco said that he expected Cook "to bounce back" in 2018 but that it didn't happen.
Cook rushed for 615 yards and missed five games with a hamstring injury. Early in the season, he didn't have the same pop in his running he had before the ACL. There were also offensive line issues.
Cook did average 4.6 yards per rush, which shows it wasn't a bad season, but just not the productive one that was expected. Now another year removed from the injury, with an offensive line that should be improved, I expect a big season from Cook. [Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer wants to run the ball, and Cook will be the guy who does it.
The other nine players on Prisco's list of potential breakouts, including three NFC North rivals, are below:
Browns WR Antonio Callaway, Lions DE Da'Shawn Hand, Dolphins S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Seahawks CB Tre Flowers, Lions RB Kerryon Johnson, Packers CB Jaire Alexander, Titans S Harold Landry, Giants LB Lorenzo Carter and Bills QB Josh Allen.
View images of Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach and Ring of Honor member Bud Grant as he celebrates his birthday on May 20.
Coller delves into 'rare bond' among Vikings defensive players
The continuity of the Vikings defense has been impressive, to say the least.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman is up-front about his philosophy on keeping players within the fold, and over the past several years, a number of players – on both sides of the ball – have been signed to extensions to keep them in Minnesota. The consistency thus far has been strongest on defense, though, and Matthew Coller of SKOR North recently took a look at the bond there. He wrote:
In this landscape, it would seem impossible that a group of players on one team would build such a closeness that they would make every conceivable effort to stick together, even giving up millions of dollars in the process.
But that describes the Minnesota Vikings defense.
Coller said that this offseason has proven the bond and that Minnesota's defensive players have a rare "willingness to sacrifice for each other." He mentioned Anthony Barr re-signing with the Vikings for less money than was offered to him by the Jets and, most recently, Eric Kendricks restructuring his contract to allow Minnesota the cap space to sign first-round pick Garrett Bradbury.
He went on to point out Everson Griffen's restructure earlier this offseason, Danielle Hunter signing the "most team-friendly pass rusher deal in the NFL," Kendricks and Xavier Rhodes signing extensions long before testing the waters of free agency and players like Chad Greenway and Brian Robison spending their entire careers in Purple.
Since the Vikings defense ascended to one of the elite defenses in the NFL in 2015, they have only seen Captain Munnerlyn and Andrew Sendejo leave in free agency, and that's at least partly because they developed effective replacements in Mackensie Alexander and Anthony Harris.
All combined, there's a room full of evidence to suggest the Vikings defense is telling the truth about viewing each other as family.
Coller took a deeper dive into what has gone into the defensive congruity. To read his feature in its entirety, click here.
Park High School gets Vikings surprise
A group of young athletes received some surprise visitors over the weekend.
Vikings teammates Kyle Sloter, Stephen Weatherly and C.J. Ham stopped by Park High School (Cottage Grove) Sunday night and took time to snap photos with some of the students.