The Vikings will hold their annual mandatory minicamp this week to conclude the offseason program. In preparation for that, vikings.com is unveiling another edition of Two-Point Conversations to bat around a few interesting talkers surrounding the team.
This segment tasks Mike Wobschall (@wobby) and Craig Peters (@pcraigers) with three topics on which to make a point in 200 words or less, then asks you to weigh-in on a question about each topic.
More likely to happen: Adrian Peterson sets a new NFL single-season rushing record or Adrian Peterson breaks the NFL's all-time rushing record?
@wobby: While I think both are in his reach, Adrian Peterson will have several more shots at Eric Dickerson's single-season mark and I think he'll top it. There is nothing to indicate Peterson is nearing the end of an already-prolific career, and he will come back with the same or perhaps even more vengeance in 2015 as he did in 2012 following his knee injury the season prior. If being less than a year removed from a severe knee injury and seeing limited carries for the first handful of games didn't stop Peterson from coming just nine yards shy of the single-season mark, I can only imagine what a healthy, rested and motivated Peterson can do this upcoming season and beyond. One thing I've learned in being around Peterson since 2007 is that it never pays to doubt him. I don't doubt that Peterson can capture both records, but the single-season mark is falling first.
@pcraigers: The all-time mark. There hasn't been a game on a press box TV more compelling than the 2012 Vikings season finale. Media members, other staffers and I couldn't help but pull ourselves from recapping the Titans finale to watch Peterson's pursuit of Eric Dickerson's record. In covering a noon (CT) game, the games that follow are often background noise, but we were glued to the screen down the stretch. That memory makes me tend to agree with what Peterson said that "anything is possible," but I wonder if he will be tasked with the amount of carries needed to break Dickerson's record. Averaging a whopping 6.0 yards on his 348 carries in 2012 wound up nine yards shy, and the Vikings are perhaps more capable of splitting the load than earlier in Peterson's career. I think catching Emmitt Smith's 18,355 yards over 15 seasons is more possible. Peterson is entering his ninth with 10,190 yards. Smith averaged 340 carries for 1,587 yards in his second-through-fourth seasons (1991-93) when Vikings OC Norv Turner held the same spot with the Cowboys. Smith had four seasons of less than 1,000 yards in his career. Peterson averaged 1,445 yards in his first seven seasons.
Who is the Week 1 starter at RG – T.J. Clemmings or someone else?
@pcraigers: If what's past is prologue, rookie T.J. Clemmings has taken most of the first-team reps at right guard during the Vikings 10 organized team activity practices. That short span might not be enough of a history to determine the future, but the fourth-round pick appears to be adjusting to the move from right tackle (two seasons) in college to right guard. He's had the benefit of working with smart and experienced center John Sullivan to his left. Mike Harris has been filling in for Phil Loadholt at right tackle, so Loadholt's return might prompt another adjustment for Clemmings, but offer a bookend of players in their eighth (Sullivan) and seventh (Loadholt) seasons. In any case, moving from tackle to guard on the same side of the offensive line won't be as big of a change as Clemmings handled in college after playing his first three seasons (redshirted as a sophomore) on defense.
@wobby: For now, I'll take someone else. Using Clemmings at right guard and sliding Brandon Fusco to left guard makes all the sense in the world. Clemmings looks the part and may well be the future at right guard for the Vikings. It would be good news and another savvy draft move for Spielman if that does indeed become the case. But it's a lot to ask of a rookie and we are still too far in front of the season for me to ink his name into the depth chart. The Vikings have alternative options already on the roster, including veteran Joe Berger and second-year player David Yankey. Plus there's the option of moving Fusco back to the right side or of signing a veteran to fill the void, such as recently released two-time Pro Bowler Evan Mathis. Again, it's great news is Clemmings is the answer, but we have a long way to go until Mike Zimmer has to make that call.
Is it good or bad to have so many buying into the Vikings in June?
@wobby: It's good! Who doesn't love to be loved? Well, I guess coach Zimmer may not love it. But I don't think a Zimmer-led team is one that allows outside influence – positive or negative – impact its performance. As such, I say bring on the hype. Hop on the bandwagon. Pile on the praise. Football is a game of discipline, execution, strategy and toughness. But it's also a game of attitude and momentum. Seeing and reading hype and positivity may inspire confidence, swagger, and self-belief, all of which can lead to momentum and enhanced performance on the field. The Vikings believe in themselves as individuals and, more importantly, as a team, so what's wrong with more and more outsiders believing in them, too?
@pcraigers: Well, to those with tendencies of paranoia or people who believe in jinxes, it could be bad. A young roster could be susceptible to buying into outside hype, but Zimmer doesn't shop those aisles of stories. Positive vibes have been flowing toward the Vikings since the 2014 season ended, and there's a general consensus mounting that Minnesota did well in free agency without breaking the bank, has a young core of talented players accented by savvy veterans and strengthened itself in the draft. Zimmer has said he appreciated the words of praise, but he's making it clear that press clippings aren't accompanied by victories. So, it could be bad, but it's definitely better than a team that's berated in June and lives up to that expectation in the fall.