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Lunchbreak: Vikings Breakout Player Projected for 2021 Season

Chad Graff of The Athletic recently posted a mailbag that answered the latest fan questions about the Vikings.

Graff, a beat reporter who covers Minnesota, opined on various topics such as the offensive line and the competition at linebacker.

Graff was also asked to choose a breakout player for the 2021 season, and he went with a bit of a surprise pick in veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson.

Graff explained:

Maybe that sounds odd considering Peterson reached eight straight Pro Bowls to start his career. But Peterson really struggled a year ago and it's no sure thing that he'll regain his previous form, especially considering he led the league in penalties last season.

Still, Peterson has earned rave reviews from everyone I've spoken to and seems re-energized by joining a new organization for the first time in a decade. He has enjoyed working with a defensive back guru in Zimmer, and Zimmer has clearly enjoyed having Peterson around.

I do think Peterson's presence helps someone like [Cameron] Dantzler in a big way, but I'm curious to see how Peterson plays on the field. We know Zimmer doesn't typically have a long leash for cornerbacks, especially ones who get penalized, and Peterson's addition feels like it could go in one of two drastically different ways.

He could come here and return to Pro Bowl form thanks to a new team led by a defensive coach. Or maybe his disappointing season a year ago was no fluke and rather the sign of things slowing down for the 31-year-old. We shall see, but for now, my bet is the former.

View photos of CB Patrick Peterson signing his contract and going on a tour of TCO Performance Center.

Peterson signed with the Vikings in March after spending the first 10 seasons of his career with the Cardinals.

Peterson, a three-time All-Pro, was also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2010s All-Decade Team that was announced in April 2020. He was one of three cornerbacks selected for that prestigious honor.

Cronin: Right guard is biggest position battle remaining

The Vikings released their first unofficial depth chart of the 2021 season Tuesday in advance of Saturday's preseason opener against the Broncos.

A position that many were interested in was that starting right guard spot, which was occupied by Olisaemeka Udoh on the depth chart. Udoh has split reps with Dakota Dozier, who was listed as a backup.

ESPN Vikings beat reporter Courtney Cronin recently highlighted Minnesota's biggest remaining position battle and went with the competition at that very spot along the offensive line.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Oct. 12, 2021.

She wrote:

Last season, 20 of the 39 sacks Kirk Cousins took came through the interior of the offensive line, which prompted the Vikings to improve their personnel around center Garrett Bradbury. Moving Ezra Cleveland to left guard created a competition at right guard where Oli Udoh and Dakota Dozier spent the first two weeks of camp splitting reps with the first-team offensive line. While Udoh might have the edge right now, given how well his length fits at the position, don't rule out rookie Wyatt Davis. With a couple of strong performances in preseason games, the third-rounder could emerge as a candidate to start at right guard.

Dozier started all 16 games in 2020 at left guard before switching to the right side this offseason. Udoh was primarily a swing tackle but shifted inside to right guard just before training camp began.

Dozier spoke Tuesday about the competition between him and Udoh.

"Oli and I are getting after it. Every day we have an opportunity and we go out there and make the best of it," Dozier said. "Competition is great … it makes you better."

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