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Monday Morning Mailbag: How To Best Utilize Diggs and Thielen?

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Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen both work well from the slot. How would a defense have to respond if they both lined up in the slot on opposite sides and a tight end was split wide on both sides? Would a linebacker have to move outside to follow the tight end or maybe a safety split wide? Might create some opportunities in the run game.
-- Brian Duncan
Powell, TN

LOVE this kind of question! And I agree that both Diggs and Thielen are great from the slot…so why not put both of them in the slot at the same time on occasion? I’m sure this kind of formation could indeed pose some challenges for a defense, although I’m equally as sure that someone like Mike Zimmer would develop some answers to this. If linebackers move out to cover the tight ends, that may be an indicator of man coverage. If the linebackers stay inside and the cornerbacks stay outside to cover the tight ends, that could be an indicator of zone coverage. But it’s not as simple as that, either, so let’s root for the Vikings to use this look and then we’ll see how the defense responds.

I know our offensive line will do better this year, but how did the Texans win 11 games while giving up 62 sacks last year? I’m sure there are plenty of different reasons. Skol!
-- Curtis Moore
Easton, PA

You have to credit the Texans team for overcoming that number of sacks allowed to win that many games because that is an exorbitant amount of sacks. The Vikings allowed 40 sacks a season ago and they’ve been bound and determined to find ways to decrease that number. Remember, though, pass protection is a responsibility that falls on every part of the defense and not solely the offensive line. Receivers need to get open, backs and tight ends can help in protection and the quarterback needs to be on time with delivery.

How are the cornerbacks doing? And who do you think will be the starters for this year?
-- Kyler Heinzen

It’s hard to see anyone but Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes on the outside and then Mackensie Alexander on the inside as starters when the regular season opens in September. Ordinarily, I’d say cornerback would be a pretty cut and dry position group to predict on the 53-man roster, but the injury to Mike Hughes and the suspension of Holton Hill for the first four weeks of the season has opened up some competition for roster spots this year. It will be interesting to see if rookies Kris Boyd and Marcus Epps continue to impress during training camp just as they did during the offseason program. Those are two names to watch among several youngsters once camp opens.

What will be the role of Irv Smith and we will he be utilized a lot in our new offense?
-- Corey A.

The Vikings were surprised and thrilled to be in a position to select Smith No. 50 overall in the draft and they remain excited about his potential in this offense. It’s also important to remember that he’s just 20 years old and that while he’s extremely talented he also has a lot to learn. I expect he’ll see the field quite a bit during his rookie season but I don’t think his presence will take away from the reps and targets for Kyle Rudolph, who remains the team’s top player at the position.

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