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Lunchbreak: Vikings & NFL Teams Have Option for Alternative Helmets Beginning in 2022

The Vikings have one of the cleanest and most-recognizable helmets across the NFL.

But there is now a chance for Minnesota to sport a different look starting in 2022.

Numerous reports were published Thursday that said teams will have the option to use alternate helmets starting in 2022, news that was confirmed by NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport outlined the details in a memo that was sent to all NFL teams.

The league recently mandated that teams must use just one style so that players were not wearing multiple helmets.

If teams do decide to wear an alternative helmet for any game in 2022, they must let the league know by July 31 of this year.

Those helmets must meet league-wide safety requirements and must be provided for all players on the team with the correct fit and size. Teams must also use the alternate helmets in practice for a full week leading up to a game.

Minnesota's current helmets feature a matte Purple hue designed to match current home jerseys. But the Vikings could wear a darker shade that the Purple People Eaters wore in the 1970s, or the glossier color that the teams in the 1990s were known for, or one specifically designed to go with Primetime Purple uniforms.

Trio of Vikings land in PFF's top 50 players for 2021

The final stage of the 2021 NFL offseason is here, as it's quiet time for nearly all of the league's players and coaches.

That will change, of course, as training camps open up in late July. Until then, we're left to wonder what the 2021 season has in store in the coming months.

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus recently put together a list of his top 50 players heading into the coming season, and included a trio of Vikings on his list.

Dalvin Cook was the Vikings highest-ranked player, as the running back grabbed the No. 26 spot on Monson's list.

Monson wrote:

Cook continues to out-perform the blocking in front of him and just earned a 90.2 PFF rushing grade, the best of his NFL career. The Vikings back has averaged 3.1 yards after contact per carry over his NFL career, racking up 91 first down runs in 2020 alone.

Cook has rushed for 2,692 combined yards and 29 total touchdowns over the past two seasons, with both of those stats ranking second across the league in that span. Cook has also earned back-to-back Pro Bowl nods in 2019 and 2020.

Monson then placed a pair of Vikings defensive players next to each other in the low 30s on his list.

Safety Harrison Smith came in at No. 32, with linebacker Eric Kendricks one spot behind him as the 33rd player among the top 50.

Monson wrote of Smith:

Smith remains one of the best and most consistent safeties in the league, and while he isn't coming off his best season, the same is true for most members of the Minnesota defense.

Smith has elite versatility to play any safety role within any coverage shell the Vikings dial up, giving them the ability to play a little bit of every type of coverage in the book. The Vikings didn't line up in any single coverage shell more than 17% of the time last season, and a huge part of that diversity is because of Smith's ability to move around and fill any missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle. He should bounce back in 2021, too, as the Vikings defense looks far stronger on paper.

Smith is a five-time Pro Bowler who has been a mainstay in Purple over the past nine seasons. He's entering his 10th season in 2021.

Monson then praised Kendricks for his outstanding ability to shut down the passing game of opposing offenses.

Kendricks has become arguably the best coverage linebacker in the NFL at a time when it has never been more difficult for linebackers to play in coverage. Over the last two seasons, Kendricks has not only forced more incompletions than any other linebacker, but he's also forced them at the highest rate in the league. He's allowed a passer rating of just 75.0 into his coverage over that same period, 30 points lower than the average passer rating when targeting linebackers.

Receivers were charted as "open," per PFF's accuracy data, on fewer than 50% of targets when targeted against Kendricks since 2019, making him one of the few linebackers who can claim that feat.

Kendricks was an All-Pro in 2019 and was likely headed for another honor in 2020 before an injury cut his season short by five games.

New Orleans led all teams with five players. Green Bay, Kansas City and San Francisco were next with four players apiece on Monson's list. All four Packers and Chiefs were in the top 20.

As for NFC North foes beyond Green Bay, Chicago had a pair of players mentioned, and Detroit did not have any.