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How built is this team to play back indoors, and does playing back inside impact the overall play calling? Does it change the strategy of how Coach Zimmer and Coach Turner approach the season? Do the players do anything differently to prepare to play indoors most of the season versus playing outside? -- Jonathan Green
Whenever you hear Mike Zimmer or GM Rick Spielman talk about the kind of team they are building, you always hear them use adjectives such as disciplined, tough and smart. Those traits are weather immune. It doesn't matter if you're inside or outside, on the frozen tundra or in the middle of the desert, any team has the ability to personify these traits. On a game-to-game basis, sure the weather or location of games can have an impact. Obviously the Vikings played in some extremely cold games at home over the last two years and that directly impacted the preparation for those games. But what was impacted because of those extreme conditions were game-specific things. As far as the overall team is concerned, I don't think playing inside or outside impacts anything significantly.
As for the players' individual preparation being impacted by playing home games inside, they'd be better at answer that than I. But as has been the case even in the past two seasons while playing at the University of Minnesota, the Vikings will play games in all kinds of environments because half the schedule is on the road. The Vikings will play in a dome every year because they play the Lions, and they'll have at least two chances every year of playing in extreme weather conditions of some kind because both Chicago and Green Bay are on the schedule. I would guess a player's particular preparation for the season won't be impacted by the team moving inside to U.S. Bank Stadium.
I know this isn't a major deal, but do you think some Vikings got snubbed from a spot in the Top 100 Players of 2016? In my opinion, I'd have to make a case for either Stefon Diggs or Everson Griffen. Your thoughts? -- Ian Smith Strasburg, VA
Yes, there's no question in my mind that both LB Anthony Barr and DE Everson Griffen should be on this list. Granted, it's a list voted on by the players and it's an opinion-based list so I guess one could say there are no wrong answers, but I don't know how one could look at the last two seasons or even last season alone and not rank Griffen, who has had back-to-back double-digit sack seasons and is a bona fide team leader, among the top 100 players in the League. Maybe Barr having missed four games two years ago and two games last year is what's led to him not being on the list, but given what he's done over the last two years, he would've been a good choice for the list, too. Also, Harrison Smith being at No. 73 is way too low for me. He's one of the best players at his position in the League and a player of that caliber should be ranked higher than No. 73.
What will the time share of snaps look like between Danielle Hunter and Brian Robison? And do you foresee Hunter taking over as the full-time starter this season? -- Josh Merrick St. Anthony, MN
That's tough to know sitting here three weeks in front of training camp and I'm sure it's also something that will bear monitoring throughout the entire 2016 season. It wouldn't surprise me if Hunter became the starter at some point in the 2016 season, but I also don't think it's a foregone conclusion because I know what Robison means to this defense. Regardless of snap distribution and starting lineup questions, though, the defense will need both Hunter and Robison to play a lot this season. And the great thing is that even if Hunter cuts into his snaps or takes his starting spot, Robison is such a smart, tough and versatile player that Zimmer will still be able to use him in a variety of ways that he'll still be a major contributor on defense. Robison is another bona fide leader in the locker room and his production on the field will be important to the Vikings this season.
I read that John Randle showed up at one of the OTAs or minicamp and some players said they learned a lot from him. Do the Vikings plan to have other stand-out alumnus visit later on, too? Pat and/or Kevin Williams, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen, Cris Carter? -- Terry Lou Campbell, CA (A MN transplant)
Yes, Randle was at Winter Park for a day during the offseason program and it was fun to see both Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph chatting it up with him. I even saw the three of them talking technique off to the side once practice was over. I know coach Zimmer is big on having former players around from time-to-time to talk to his players because he knows that sometimes there are messages that are best delivered to players by former players. To understand that not every message has to come from him or from an authority figure, tells me a lot about Zimmer's ability to be a leader and, specifically, a football coach. I don't know of any planned times when alumni will be at a Vikings practice, but I also know coach Zimmer welcomes former players to the facility or to training camp whenever they are able to make it.
I've been waiting to hear something about Michael Griffin. I'm not sure if he is quite as good, but looking at his stats they look very comparable to Harrison Smith's. Any news on him and how his chances are looking as a starter? Has he been working out with the team yet? Not sure how that works if players relocate when traded to another team? -- Arvind Gavali
Griffin was at the Vikings offseason program and looked good working in the defense. I still think the starting job next to Smith is Andrew Sendejo's until someone beats him out, but Griffin has a shot to compete for that spot because he's a veteran who is familiar with DBs coach Jerry Gray and he's seen a lot in his nine years of NFL experience. I don't think learning the defense will be something that holds him back.