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Vikings Ready To 'Do A Little Bit More' Without Teddy

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The onus of the Vikings season hasn't fallen on the shoulders of one player, whether it be quarterback Shaun Hill, running back Adrian Peterson or anyone in between. 

The Vikings will go into the 2016 season without quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Tuesday. But players and coaches say success will come via a collective team effort, not a Herculean performance by any sole individual.

"I think everyone's role gets better – each and every one of us in this locker room will have to do a little bit more," tight end Kyle Rudolph said Thursday night. "Nothing extraordinary – just do a little bit more.

"Do one more thing right and one less thing wrong each and every day, and we'll pick up that slack that's been lost by Teddy," he added.

Offensively, the veteran Hill will take over for Bridgewater. The 36-year-old is a 15-year veteran in the league and has spent the past two offseasons immersed in the Vikings offense.

Hill said Thursday that he's always prepared to be the starter, even when Bridgewater was healthy.

"When I get in a situation like this, it's not something completely out of the ordinary," Hill said. "I've always had that same focus, brought that same focus to work, so that when a situation like this does come about, I don't have to change anything. I don't have to change how I prepare.

"I don't have to change what I eat or sleep habits or anything like that," he added. "It's all in place."

The Vikings also have their all-time leading rusher in the backfield, plus a variety of other weapons at skill positions.

Peterson said his reaction was one of "disgust because of the type of guy he is" when Bridgewater went down. But the man with 11,675 career rushing yards and 97 career touchdowns knows he'll need to do his part this season, as will fellow running back Jerick McKinnon, Rudolph, wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Charles Johnson, among others.

"We still have a team," Peterson said. "It's very unfortunate that you lose your star quarterback, but it takes a team to win a championship.

"Guys have to step up, but we're still chasing the same thing," he added.

Minnesota also beefed up its offensive line this offseason, bringing in left guard Alex Boone and right tackle Andre Smith. Although the men in the trenches won't be tasked with protecting Bridgewater this season, Boone said it's on everyone to do just a little bit more.

"(Bridgewater's) presence will be lost," Boone said. "But at the end of the day, everyone is going to have to pick up the slack."

On the other side of the ball, the Vikings return all 11 starters on defense and have strong depth at nearly every position.

Minnesota allowed the fifth-fewest points in the NFL last season at 18.9 points per game and feature Pro Bowlers on each level of the defense, from defensive end Everson Griffen to linebacker Anthony Barr to safety Harrison Smith.

Smith said Thursday that while Bridgewater's injury increases the need for the defense to play well, they won't be required to pitch a shutout each week.

"It kind of puts some more pressure on us, which as competitors, I think that's something that we like," Smith said. "(It's about the) team. It's always team. That's what we're all in on."

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said the Vikings will remain a tough and gritty team, especially since they are led by Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

Munnerlyn said Zimmer and the coaching staff will ensure the Vikings have a chance to win each and every week.

"Just trust the system, man. Coach the system, trust the coaches, trust each other …," Munnerlyn said. "Still trust your teammates. Don't try to bend over backwards to do everybody else's job.

"You have to just keep trusting the system, keep trusting each other and go out there and grind together," he added.

The Vikings are also strong in the third phase of the game — special teams.

Blair Walsh led the NFL in field goals last season with 34, while Cordarrelle Patterson topped the league with a 31.8-yard average on kickoff returns and was the only player to return a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns.

The Vikings said the Bridgewater's injury was undoubtedly a sting, especially since the 23-year-old is one of the most respected and loved players in the locker room.

But now that he's on the mend, his teammates will simply need to do a little more here and there to try and defend their NFC North title.

Zimmer said he will make sure of that.

"I think this team follows my lead pretty good. I'm going to lead them," Zimmer said. "I'm going to make sure that they're paying attention, doing things right. Anytime you have a tragedy or whatever you want to call it, they're going to be looking to somebody for strength and wisdom and all these other things.

"Part of my job is, and I've already started to do it, talk to them about the things that I believe we have to do and how we need to move forward," he added. "That's why they hired me."

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