Two days of training camp are now in the books, and NFL.com's Brian Baldinger took a look at the Vikings performance.
As Minnesota prepares for the 2016 season, Baldinger is making an early prediction: Adrian Peterson will once again lead the league in rushing yards.
"If there's one thing they don't have to worry about – even though he's getting older – it's [Adrian Peterson]," Baldinger said. "I know Todd Gurley's out there waiting, but he's my pick to repeat as the NFL's rushing champion."
Baldinger said he believes Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner will be instrumental in Peterson continuing to produce at such a high level, saying Turner "just knows how to work a running back."
"Whether it was Emmitt Smith in Dallas or [LaDainian Tomlinson] in San Diego, he knows how to feature a back and get the most of them," Baldinger said.
Baldinger said that he's expecting an upgrade in Minnesota's offensive line after adding Andre Smith and Alex Boone in free agency, and that will affect Peterson positively.
"I think they'll continue to run the ball, and there's nobody better at it than Adrian Peterson," Baldinger said.
No longer underdogs, Vikings set high expectations for 2016
With the 2016 season within sight, the Vikings are working hard at training camp and setting big expectations for themselves coming off a winning record last year. Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press said Minnesota is entering a new season no longer a league underdog.
Tomasson looked for reaction from players about their change in status. "I like being the underdog because nobody knows about you until you hit them in the mouth a few times, then they're going to recognize who we are,'' Griffen told media during training camp.
The Vikings, who went 11-5 last season, still vow to hit opponents in the mouth. The opponents, though, will have a better idea that it is coming.
"We got a target on our back,'' said defensive tackle Tom Johnson. "When you're the underdog, you usually got a chip on your shoulder. But whether we're the underdog or the favorite, we just know what we got to do. We're going to put it to the test, and we got goals that we're trying to reach.''
Tomasson said it's "not hard to figure out" that the Vikings number one goal is to play in the Super Bowl in February.
There are plenty of reasons for optimism. Minnesota's defense ranked fifth last season in the NFL in points allowed and looks to be getting even better with several up-and-coming stars.
The offense had its share of problems, including allowing 45 sacks. But the line has been beefed up, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has an intriguing new target in wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, taken with the No. 23 pick in April's draft.
T.J. Clemmings prides himself on versatility
When Phil Loadholt was sidelined last season due to injury, rookie T.J. Clemmings was moved from guard to starting right tackle. Viking Update's Tim Yotter caught up with Clemmings at Vikings training camp to talk about his role with the team headed into the 2016 season.
*This year, Clemmings has stayed at tackle, but there's a new element that challenged him this spring. He's been working at both left and right tackle, and with Loadholt deciding to retire last week, Clemmings is now seeing more time at right tackle behind Andre Smith and getting a chance to show what he can do with the starting unit. *
But for a player that went from the defensive line in his first two years of college to the offensive line his second two years, making position adjustments in the NFL has been a staple for him so far.
"I wouldn't say it's a challenge. It's being able to do both spots, play both spots and just do the best I can at it," Clemmings told Yotter. "It's not really a challenge. The challenging part is already passed, I would say. Now it's just playing football."
Clemmings told Yotter that he hopes to compete with Smith for the starting spot.
"Oh, yeah. That's why I'm here. That's why we're here at camp. Everybody should be trying to compete for a starting job," he said. "That's what I'm here to do and we'll see how it all pans out."