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Monday Morning Mailbag: Bye Week Timing, Ground Game, Starting WR's

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As a Vikings fan, I have enjoyed the journey thus far. We are 5-0! Every win seems to be the ultimate Viking way – solid defense, good special team play and mistake-free offense. Do you feel like the timing of the bye week will help or harm the momentum we've built so far? -- Javaris Lee Batesville, MS

While the Vikings obviously have great momentum built up from winning the first five games of the season, a quick glance at the injury report leads me to believe the bye week will be very much appreciated by players who could use a few extra days to get their bodies right. A few extra days off this week won't be the cure-all for the roster, but it will help a lot.

A complete game again. The team has injuries and it is the next man up. Again, the running game was the weak part of the game. What do you think we should to get that part going? While I don't want to predict anything, if the offense starts firing on all cylinders, this team could be unstoppable.  As always, go Vikings! Skol! -- Mike Boswell Goodwin, SD

Some continuity along the offensive line would certainly help, but injuries keep preventing that from happening. The Vikings started Sunday's game with left tackle Matt Kalil on the Reserve/Injured list and without right tackle Andre Smith, who was inactive because of an injury. Then right guard Brandon Fusco had to leave the game with an injury, which left the Vikings with just two starters in their normal position from the Week 1 lineup. We've seen more and more positive things from the running game the last two weeks, so hopefully the guys up front and the running backs can continue to build on that as they come out of the bye and hit the road for two straight contests in Philadelphia and in Chicago.

Will we see Ronnie Hillman into the mix anytime soon? -- Greg Nedved

It's possible he gets a little more involved coming out of the bye, but I still expect it to be a Mat Asiata-Jerick McKinnon combo at running back. Hillman is a solid player and he'll be able to help the Vikings this season, but it's a difficult process to learn an offense once you join a team mid-season because the bulk of the meaningful reps in practice are going to the running backs who will be playing in the game that following Sunday. Slowly but surely, Hillman will take a few reps here and a few reps there, and he'll be up to speed eventually.

It was "spectacular" teams on Sunday because they were more than special. From kick coverage to a great punt from the end zone to kicks for points that all split the uprights to another Sherels punt return score. Props to Blair Walsh, as well. Perfect day. -- Jeff Kilty Sacramento, CA

It's only fair to give Walsh some props after a game in which he is five of five on his field goals/point after touchdowns when a lot of people were so hard on him after a missed field goal last week. Through five games, Walsh is nine of 12 (75%) on field goals and 10 of 12 (83.3%) on PATs. All-in-all, it was another fine day for the Vikings special teams, with Marcus Sherels registering his fifth career punt return touchdown, Jeff Locke with another punt downed inside the 20 (he now has 13 on the season, second-most in the NFL), and Walsh with a perfect day. I'm sure special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will want to correct a few things here and there, particularly with some punt returns that were allowed on Sunday, but generally speaking it's been a great five-game stretch for the Vikings special teams. 

What is the plan for Teddy and Sam once Teddy is healthy again? Is this still Teddy's team or will it be open for competition as every other position is? I like how both men handle this offense and how they lead our team, so I am torn for sure. We are fortunate to have options for the future unlike so many other teams. -- Brent Berg

Right now there is no plan because there doesn't have to be one. This is a "cross that bridge when you get there" situation. Bridgewater won't be ready to return until the 2017 regular season, and so much can happen between now and then that it is meaningless to speculate on how the team might handle the quarterback situation that far down the road. There is too much opportunity in front of Bradford and the Vikings right now to worry about how the position will be handled next season.

Any chance the Vikings start Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen at wide receiver (when Diggs is healthy)? They appear to be having the best games so far this season. -- Larry R.

I don't get concerned with who the "starters" are at wide receiver. All it means to start at wide receiver is you were on the field for the first snap. You can be on the field for the first snap but then play zero more snaps and you'll go down as the starter even though other wide receivers had a more meaningful role in the game. Who starts at receiver is as much about the first play call of the as it is about which receiver is looked at as the best. The bottom line is it doesn't matter who is on the field for the first play and is technically the "starter." What matters is who plays the most plays during a game. At wide receiver, it can vary from week-to-week based on the game plan, injuries, matchups, weather, etc. Thielen is definitely a guy who has value to the Vikings offense, whether he's a "starter" or not.

Outside of resting and getting healthy, what is the objectives do the players have during the bye week? -- Dan Jones

That's really about it. Heal as much as possible, refresh the mind and stay out of trouble. The coaches will do some self-scouting, the scouts will keep evaluating the roster, and the players will rest up. Then, next week, they'll get together again to prepare for Philadelphia and the final 11 games of the regular season. There is a lot of season left in front of the Vikings. 

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