The Vikings defense has garnered another wave of praise this offseason.
Matt Claassen of Pro Football Focus recently ranked each team’s secondary and slotted the Vikings at No. 7.
Led by safety Harrison Smith and cornerback Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota's secondary helped the defense rank fifth in the NFL last season by allowing just 18.9 points per game.
Cornerbacks Terence Newman and Captain Munnerlyn each played all 16 games last season, and safety Andrew Sendejo was second on the team with 100 tackles.
Minnesota boosted its secondary depth by signing two-time Pro Bowl safety Michael Griffin as a free agent in March. The Vikings also have a handful of young players ready to step up in cornerback Trae Waynes, cornerback Mackensie Alexander and safety Jayron Kearse.
After yet another outstanding season, Smith has earned the right to be called the best overall safety in the league. Rhodes really struggled early on last season, but was one of the best NFL corners after Week 10 last year. Terence Newman has done well enough defying Father Time thus far, and the Vikings are already prepared with first-round picks from the last two years in Waynes and Alexander (Clemson) waiting in the wings. With as much stock as Minnesota has invested in the secondary, the group may be even better than seventh overall in 2016 if their young players pan out.
Claassen highlighted Rhodes' strong second half of the season as his key stat for the secondary.**
Over the first nine games of 2015, Xavier Rhodes allowed 38 receptions for 460 yards and six touchdowns. Over the Vikings' final eight games, he allowed 24 receptions for 257 yards, one touchdown, and [recorded] eight passes defensed.
Peterson sees "greatness" when he looks at Bridgewater
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been to the postseason four times in his career.
Minnesota's all-time leading rusher believes his team can make a deep run this year, especially with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at the helm.
Peterson recently chatted with Ben Goessling of ESPN.com about Minnesota's 23-year-old quarterback and expectations for the 2016 season.
*The 2016 team, Peterson said, has the potential to be as good or better than the 2009 team that lost the NFC Championship Game to the New Orleans Saints in overtime. *
It was the only year he shared the backfield with a quarterback (Brett Favre) whose passer rating was north of 100. And if this year's Vikings are to take the step the 2009 team couldn't, it will be incumbent upon Bridgewater to take command of an offense that ranked 31st in the league in passing a year ago.
Peterson did not mince words, though, when he was asked whether he thinks Bridgewater can do it.
"When I look in his eyes, I see greatness," Peterson said. "I see a young man who's -- even now, he's matured more, and he wants to be great. He has that leadership, he has that leader inside him and it's coming out even more. He just has a good spirit. He has a good soul, a good spirit. And when you combine that with talent, and the mindset that he has, greatness will come out."
Peterson won his third-career rushing title in 2015 after running for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns.