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Monday Morning Mailbag: Unseating The Packers

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Do you think the Vikings have a shot at challenging the Green Bay Packers and winning the division this year or in the near future? -- Jackson Schell

Yes, the Vikings have a shot at winning the division. The road to doing so does go through Green Bay because they are the defending champions and will be favored to win the division once again in 2015, but the Vikings are a much better team right now than they were in Week 17 of last season, and I would argue they weren't terribly far off last season. With Adrian Peterson back in the fold, Teddy Bridgewater a year more experienced, added talent on defense and Mike Zimmer going into his second year building his program, the Vikings are poised to take a significant step forward in 2015 and there's no reason winning the division shouldn't be one of the team's goals.

Are the Vikings going to run any power-I plays with two running backs? Seems to me that with AP they could use that and ram that ball down a lot of teams' throats. -- Garnet Weller

The power running game is a staple of Norv Turner's offense and with Adrian Peterson's return to the lineup I would anticipate plenty of "21" (2 RB/FB, 1 TE) and "22" personnel groupings to establish that physicality and tempo. But it's also important to be able to run the ball out of one-back sets ("11" and "12" personnel) so that personnel groupings aren't giving away whether the upcoming play is a run or a pass. Ultimately, the Vikings will want to be a versatile offense that can run effectively when it needs to run as well as throw effectively when it needs to throw.

In last week's mailbag, you didn't mention Captain Munnerlyn in the conversation of starting corners. He hasn't been talked about much this offseason. I thought he was primed to play the role of nickel, as he did in Carolina. He is built to play nickel, but do we need someone tall like Waynes to play these monster receivers in the NFC North? -- Nathan F. West Suburbs of Chicago, IL

Despite my omission of him last week's mailbag, Munnerlyn is certainly in the mix at CB and could be on the field for the first snap of Week 1 either outside or in the slot. Right now it's just too early to start projecting who will start and who will come in once the defense goes into sub packages because we all of training camp and the preseason to get through, plus you never know what kind of factor injuries are going to play. At the end of the day, the good news is the Vikings have plenty of talent from which to choose as they look to set their roster and they have the size at the position, particularly with Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes, to contend with some of the division's bigger receivers.

Do you think that with the additions of Adrian Peterson and Mike Wallace, Kyle Rudolph can have a great year? -- Benjamin  Atlanta, GA

Having Peterson and Wallace on the field to occupy the defense's attention will certainly help Rudolph and the other playmakers, I would actually say being healthy is the biggest factor for Rudy. The last two seasons he's been dealing with injuries, but heading into training camp he'll be 100% healthy. The last time he was 100% healthy was in 2012, when the Vikings made the playoffs thanks in part to a Pro Bowl season from Rudy.

Do you see Danielle Hunter following in the footsteps of Everson Griffen, with the first step being a gunner on special teams? -- Todd Alexander

You wouldn't guess it based off of last season's production, but Griffen was a fourth-round pick of the Vikings in 2010. That's quite a steal given the fact he had 12.0 sacks in 16 games played/started. But the Vikings took a chance on a young, athletic defensive end in the fourth round knowing he would need development over time and also knowing he could contribute on special teams while he was developing. And that chance paid off big time. That is precisely how Hunter's career could unfold. What exact role he'll have on special teams remains to be seen and will likely vary over the course of time, but ultimately, yes, I do think Hunter's development and career arc can be similar to that of Griffen's.

Do you think the Chase Ford will get cut now that the coaches seem to be so high on (MyCole) Pruitt? -- Nick Langer

The Vikings have a great looking depth chart at TE and it wouldn't surprise me to see both Ford and Pruitt make the final 53-man roster coming out of the preseason. But as is the case with the CB position discussed above, it's just too early to start projecting who does and does not make it. The fact that Pruitt impressed during the offseason program does not mean Ford will be cut because Ford had a good spring, too, and he could impress even more at training camp and in the preseason.

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