Vikings players are excited about training camp signaling the start of another NFL season and another run at the postseason.
Minnesota encountered a number of obstacles in 2016 and ultimately missed the playoffs, but *Star Tribune *columnist Jim Souhan said there's no reason to believe the same will happen during the 2017 season. He wrote:
For all of the latent pessimism surrounding the franchise, the makeup of the current roster and the nature of the NFL indicates that the 2016 team simply was destroyed by injuries. Even without a healthy offensive line, star running back and starting quarterback, the Vikings were in position to make the playoffs. Two excruciating losses to Detroit made the difference between 10-6 and 8-8.
Souhan continued that the Vikings are heading into 2017 improved at a number of offensive positions that heavily affect one another, including offensive line, running back, quarterback and wide receiver.
*This year's team will rely on Sam Bradford after he's had a full offseason as a starter while paired with familiar mentor Pat Shurmur. Bradford performed admirably with poor blocking, little time and no running game last year. *
According to Souhan, Bradford should also have a strong second season in Purple with the receiving corps he has to work with.
A full season of Adam Thielen as a starter and the expected development of Laquon Treadwell as a regular option should make this group dangerous.
Zimmer's first team went 7-9, and his second finished 11-5. With decent luck and health, there is little reason to doubt that this team should win 10 or 11 games and return to the playoffs.
Pat Elflein: 'Pressure is on us' to improve O-line in 2017
Pat Elflein arrived on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato Sunday afternoon for his first NFL training camp. Chad Graff of the *Pioneer Press *connected with the rookie center to ask him about his role in Minnesota's offensive line. Graff wrote:
Pat Elflein was nowhere near the Vikings' distressed offensive line a year ago, enjoying an All-American senior season as center for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
But that hasn't meant Elflein has escaped frequent chatter of how much the team needs that unit to improve.
Elflein said that "the pressure is on us," and that the offensive line is accepting that responsibility.
"We know we have to get better, know we have to do our job," Elflein told Graff. "There are great players all over the field, and if we do our job it will allow them to do their job better and complete the team. We've got to do our job and we have to get better at that."
According to Elflein, it would be "a dream come true" to start at center as a rookie, but he also understands there's a lot of competition to come before that.
"That's a little ways down the road and there's a lot of work ahead," Elflein told Graff. "But it would be incredible. It would be awesome. But however I can help this team, I'm here to do that and show that I can. I'm excited to get out there and compete."
PFF highlights Bradford's performance under pressure
Pro Football Focus has highlighted a number of Vikings players for various statistics during the 2016 season, the most recent being Bradford.
PFF's graphic illustrates the top five quarterbacks by their performance under pressure last season. Bradford comes in second with an average passer rating of 87.7 when facing pressure. Aaron Rodgers came in first (93.8), while Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady came in at third, fourth and fifth, respectively.