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Lunchbreak: Smith Listed on ESPN's Preseason All-Pro Team

Vikings safety Harrison Smith would be just fine with playing the 2017 season without any fanfare or outside attention. writer Field Yates isn't helping the cause.

Yates recently released his preseason All-Pro team and had Smith on his list. Smith, who has made back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances, was one of two safeties listed along with Seattle's Earl Thomas.

Yates wrote:

Like Thomas, Smith makes plays in the pass and run game. Coaches never have to worry about whether he'll execute the right assignment, and he ensures others are doing the same.

Smith had 104 total tackles (according to coaches' tally) and added four tackles for loss with 2.0 sacks and a fumble recovery in 2016. He played and started in 14 games.

Yates also mentioned a pair of Vikings who could be dark horse candidates to make the All-Pro team.

Yates noted that Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph and defensive end Danielle Hunter are each also primed for strong seasons.

Rudolph had 83 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016, and Hunter led the Vikings with 12.5 sacks in just his second season out of LSU.

Storylines to watch entering 2017 opener

The Vikings have less than a week before they open the 2017 season at home against New Orleans on ESPN's Monday Night Football.

Dave Campbell of the Associated Press took a look at some intriguing storylines as the Vikings begin their 57th season in the NFL.

Minnesota started hot but had ups and down over the final stretch in 2016 as the Vikings finished 8-8 in 2016.

Campbell wondered which Vikings team will show up in 2017.

*Are the Vikings more like the team that won the NFC North in 2015 with an 11-5 record and then started 5-0 last season? Or is the reality closer to the group that lost eight of the last 11 games to spoil that once-promising 2016 season? *

Campbell also mentioned three storylines that are worth watching as the Vikings try to make a run back to the postseason.

The defense

*The Vikings allowed the third-fewest yards in the league last season and the sixth-fewest points, but as valuable and versatile as the defense was it was not above reproach for the way the team fell apart down the stretch. The Vikings allowed 403 yards in a defeat at Chicago. They missed multiple tackles on the game-ending touchdown in overtime by Detroit. They gave up 27 first-half points in a lackluster loss to Indianapolis. *

*Zimmer has spoken often of steering the defense to display more recklessness this season. *

"It's not just play like a maniac," Smith said. "It's play at high level without holding much back."

A rookie running back

*With Adrian Peterson in New Orleans, the backfield belongs to rookie Dalvin Cook. He'll be asked to help revive a running game that ranked last in the league last season, sputtering behind a struggling offensive line. *

"He's just really sharp," Bradford said. "Mentally, for him to be able to come in and grasp everything that we've asked him to do and asked him to learn, I think that's been one of the more impressive things about him."

The guys up front

*The Vikings have an entirely new offensive line, with Joe Berger, who moved from center to right guard, the only returning starter. Zimmer has said he believes the group has improved. *

"But the proof has got to be in the pudding," he said. "I thought we were going to be better last year and we, obviously, had a lot of different things happen. We weren't anywhere where we needed to be."

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