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After the first set of OTAs, were there any guys that stood out to you? How did Cordarrelle Patterson look? -- Ryan Anderson Le Mars, IA
Patterson was on a roll when I happened to be watching on Thursday and you can see some of his best stuff in this OTA No. 3 highlight clip. But over the course of the three days, I was impressed with TE Kyle Rudolph. It's almost daily that he makes a handful of catches that make it obvious he is a special talent, whether it's posting a LB up over the middle or outrunning a safety on a corner route to haul in long receptions. Rudy is a matchup nightmare for defenses and having him healthy is a big deal for the offense. The last time the Vikings had Rudolph for 16 games, they went to the playoffs and he won MVP honors in the Pro Bowl.
With the bulk of the roster moves done for the 2015 season, which new Vikings (one defense, one offense) are you most excited for? -- Kerry R. Mound, MN
At this point I would point to a couple Ws – CB Trae Waynes and WR Mike Wallace. If Waynes develops into the kind of player you'd expect in a first-round CB, it will give Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and defensive coordinator George Edwards great flexibility and versatility. To have two cornerbacks – Xavier Rhodes and Waynes – who can be reliable in coverage on the outside allows the defense to be diverse and unpredictable on the inside. As for Wallace, he is a bona fide deep threat and his ability to stretch the field and make downfield receptions will allow the Vikings to challenge defenses in a way they haven't been able to in a long time. I also love Wallace in the screen game and on underneath routes where he gets the ball in space and with room to run.
I was wondering how you feel about the offensive line and the battle for what is presumably the left guard position. I've read some rumors of moving Fusco to LG and then having one of the younger guys playing RG (TJ Clemmings or David Yankey). What other possibilities/combinations do you think are possible? -- Tyler Lomax Albany, OR
I feel the Vikings may be onto something with the shift of Fusco to LG and then staging a competition at RG. On one hand, moving Fusco to a new position creates two new starters and, by definition, more of a learning curve. But I feel the fact that the entire left side – Matt Kalil-Fusco-John Sullivan – would then be solidified is worth creating that extra "new" starter, plus if Clemmings does indeed win the RG spot you don't have to worry about him acclimating to the pro game while also switching sides of the line (he played on the right side in college). Other possible combinations include Joe Berger or Yankey winning a starting job at RG with Fusco at LG or Fusco staying at RG and then moving the open competition to LG.
Has a receiver emerged to be the favorite target of Teddy? -- Rick Linn Lux, MN
Bridgewater's favorite receiver is the open one. His decision making has been very good every step of the way but got better and better as last season progressed. I expect he'll continue to get better in that area. The important balance to draw, and the balance many of the great ones can draw, is the balance between being judicious with the ball but also not being afraid to sling it around the field and make difficult throws. Bridgewater has demonstrated improvement in this area and I feel he's been able to do that because he typically doesn't hone in on a receiver or make a predetermined throw. He did so against the Detroit Lions last season when Glover Quin picked him off in the end zone, but that is an example of a mistake from which he learned.
With all of that being said, I can't blame Bridgewater for naturally gravitating toward Rudy when push comes to shove. When Rudy is open, he's *really *open. And when Rudy is covered, he's still sort of open because of his catch radius and ability to make difficult receptions to beat quality coverage.
With the Vikings struggles last year stopping the run, I was surprised a DT in the later rounds in the mold of Pat Williams didn't get picked. Is there a free agent rookie that fits this mold that the Vikings are interested in or signed? -- Tim Negri
No, there isn't but I don't believe the issues the Vikings had at times in stopping the run last year was primarily on the DTs. Granted, one of their top priorities on a given play is stopping the run so I can see why a poor ranking against the run would seem to be an indictment against the DTs, but I think there were other issues that led to some leaky run defense aside from the play from the DTs. I like what the Vikings have going at DT and I think they will be able to hold their water.
With the new extra point rules in the NFL, do you expect the Vikings to use a balance of both scoring tries? Will the Vikings run any more 2-point drills at practice this year? -- Austin Malarchick
I do not foresee a balanced ratio of extra point and two-point conversion tries for the Vikings. My guess is the vast majority of the PAT tries for the Vikings in 2015 will still be extra point kicks. But the PAT modification does indeed make it more compelling to go for two, and because of that I do think there will be a higher frequency of it across the League. So the Vikings will put an emphasis on the two-point conversion in practice because A) they may go for two slightly more and B) their opponents will go for two more often so the defense will need to practice the scenario, as well.