The 2015 regular season may be young, but the NFL handed the Vikings an early bye week. That gives us an opportunity to name the top Vikings performers just four games into the season.
The top three performers are categorized into offense, defense and special teams.
**Offense – RB Adrian Peterson
This pick is pretty straightforward. When Adrian Peterson is on the right track offensively, the Vikings are a better team. The halfback has run for 372 rushing yards thus far, tops in the NFL. Although AD is not currently on pace for the 2,500 yards he set as a goal, he has proven that he's not missed a step after missing 15 games last season. Peterson has shown on multiple occasions that he is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field and that he can still turn a broken play into positive yardage. He has 40 yard touchdowns in the past two weeks. Peterson's breakout speed is still intact and that was evident in his 48-yard touchdown on 4th down in Denver against one of the top defensive lines in the League. The running game was slow to go in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers and in parts of the game against the Broncos, but Peterson appears poised to produce some must-watch performances heading into the remainder of the Vikings schedule.
Defense – LB Anthony Barr
This was a tougher choice due to the fact that the young Vikings defense as a whole has shown signs of dominance early in the season. A big reason for the growth of the defensive unit has been second-year LB Anthony Barr, who leads the team with 23 tackles. After starting in 12 games in his rookie season, the former UCLA Bruin has accepted a larger role in the last few weeks as one of Head Coach Mike Zimmer's most electric players on defense. As Barr has been such a consistent tackler, he has exemplified the ability to make a game-changing play for the Vikings.
Last week against Denver, the Vikings were trailing 13-3 with just over 30 seconds remaining in the first half when Barr shifted the momentum by reading the eyes of one of the best QBs of all-time in Peyton Manning. He jumped the route of wide receiver Andre Caldwell and boosted the Vikings comeback effort with the first interception of his career. He also forced a fumble early in the 1st quarter of the Vikings 31-14 victory in Week 3 against the Chargers.
Special Teams – P Jeff Locke
The Vikings punt team currently ranks 1st in the League in opponents drive start following a punt and 1st in punt return yards allowed with four through the first four games the season. While these statistics can certainly be attributed to Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer's crew as a whole, we'll give some credit to P Jeff Locke. The 26-year-old ranks 2nd in the NFL with nine forced fair catches on the season. Locke is averaging 41.6 yards per punt and is tied for 2nd in the League with nine punts inside the 20. He has zero touchbacks through his first 16 punts of the season, as well.