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Monday Morning Mailbag: Offensive Chemistry, CB Depth, New Kickoff Rules

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*On Good Morning Football, Nate Burleson talked about the chemistry Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen had with Case Keenum. Should we be concerned that they will not have that kind of connection with Kirk Cousins? -- Chris Johnson, *

There should be no concern at all. Remember, Diggs and Thielen worked with Sam Bradford, not Keenum, for all of the offseason and training camp last year. It wasn’t until Bradford’s injury in Week 1 that Keenum worked with the other starters. This year, Diggs and Thielen have been working with Cousins every step of the way, so they will enter the 2018 season with far better chemistry than what they had with Keenum entering his first start in Week 2 last year.

How will offseason losses on the offensive line affect the protection of our new quarterback? -- Kreston Reynolds

I actually think the offseason changes will help the protection of the quarterback. Yes, the Vikings did lose Joe Berger, who was a solid starter. But they signed Tom Compton in free agency, retained Nick Easton and drafted both Brian O’Neill and Colby Gossett. The Vikings return five linemen who started at least seven games last season and they’ve assembled a group of players who will compete for backup and reserve spots to give the offense some quality depth along the offensive line. On top of that, Cousins is a good anticipatory thrower and he’s also a mobile quarterback who can avoid pressure as well as Keenum did a season ago, so that will help the offense neutralize the opponent’s pass rush, as well.

With a relatively young squad, what are the chances the Vikings will add a proven veteran such as DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant or the recently released Mychal Kendricks to boost the talent on the squad? -- Roger Schroeder

I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a veteran signing by the Vikings before the season starts, but right now is not typically the time you see that kind of move. Teams have assembled 90-man rosters and are right in the middle of their Organized Team Activities. Now is the time where they want to see those players compete and begin to make through assessments on them. This is not the time where teams like to add in veterans to the mix. Once teams take a look at their rosters though OTAs and the mandatory minicamp, they will determine where their strengths and weaknesses are and then that’s where they’ll analyze the veteran free agent market to see if they can make any improvements that way.

Who will be the No. 2 and No. 3 cornerbacks behind Xavier Rhodes? And where does Mike Hughes fit in? -- Brody Perry

Trae Waynes is clearly the No. 2 cornerback and the Vikings are fortunate to have as talented a one-two punch at cornerback as they do with Rhodes-Waynes. As for the nickel cornerback, I’m sensing it’ll be a competition among Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hughes and Trae Waynes for playing time. Newman’s advantage is experience and the trust he’s built up with Mike Zimmer over the years. Alexander has youth as the advantage over Newman but two years of experience as the advantage over Hughes. And Hughes’ advantage is that his ceiling is high and his talent level is immense, so Zimmer and his staff will be eager to develop him. I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t tell you how it will shake out. But I can tell you it’s a safe bet that all three of those guys are going to be needed in 2018.

With the new changes to the kickoff rules, it seems to me that the more aggressive teams will be the ones that find it most difficult to adjust. I have a lot of confidence in Mike Priefer’s coaching ability, and I know only time will tell, but do you think our special teams will be more likely to benefit from or be hamstrung by new rules? -- Tom Warner

In my view, the new kickoff rules are going to create more space on the field during a return. This will make it easier on the return team and tougher on the coverage team. Since all teams have to both return kicks and cover kicks, I think it impacts everyone about equally. My sense is we’ll see fewer big guys (linemen, linebackers) and more smaller guys (defensive backs, running backs) on the field, so I suppose the teams who have stronger “smaller player” personnel will benefit a bit more than the teams who don’t have as strong a “smaller player” personnel.

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