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Lunchbreak: Ngakoue Included in 'Most Intriguing Players' of 2020

The 2020 NFL season officially kicks off in just over 48 hours with the Chiefs hosting the Texans Thursday night in the first of 256 scheduled games across the league.

The Vikings are among 26 teams who have to wait until Sunday when they will square off against the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Over the next five months, we will watch incredible plays and memorable moments on the quest to Super Bowl LV.

Players will undoubtedly make up the majority of those storylines with the usual ups and downs of an NFL season.

Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic recently put together a list of the 25 most intriguing players for 2020, and included Vikings defensive end Yannick Ngakoue on it at No. 22.

View photos of Vikings DE Yannick Ngakoue who had his first practice with the team on Sept. 3.

Kapadia wrote:

He so badly wanted to get out of Jacksonville that Ngakoue accepted about a $6 million pay cut to complete the trade to the Vikings. In Ngakoue's first four NFL seasons, he's produced 37.5 sacks and 85 QB hits. The only other players since 2000 who have hit those marks in their first four seasons are: J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Clay Matthews and Aaron Donald.

The 25-year-old Ngakoue will team with Danielle Hunter to give Minnesota one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league. The Vikings have shown they'll pay top dollar to keep defensive players that Mike Zimmer finds valuable. Ngakoue is on a one-year deal, but with a strong season, he could earn a big deal and become a mainstay in Minnesota.

Ngakoue was acquired a week ago in a trade with the Jaguars in which the Vikings sent a 2021 second-round pick and a conditional 2022 fifth-round pick to Jacksonville.

Ngakoue's best season came in 2017 when he recorded 12 sacks and forced a league-best six fumbles as he helped the Jaguars reach the AFC title game.

And while Ngakoue said he took less money to come to Minnesota, his sole focus now is on helping the Vikings win games — beginning this Sunday.

"Money was never my drive coming into this business. It has never been my drive. I've always wanted to be a great-caliber guy, great-quality guy, on and off the field," Ngakoue said on Friday. "I just needed a fresh start, and Minnesota was [the team] that gave me the opportunity to continue to live out my dream. I'm appreciative and excited.

"I haven't really thought about a long-term deal or anything like that. The only thing that's been on my mind is getting acclimated and adjusted to the new playbook," Ngakoue added. "It's a different scheme from what I've ran in Jacksonville. Just getting all those things locked in my mind so I can be ready for Week 1 and help this team as much as I can."

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.

Adrian Peterson returns to NFC North

The best running back in franchise history is making his return to the NFC North.

Adrian Peterson, who is entering his 14th NFL season, has joined the Detroit Lions, the team announced Monday. Peterson was released by the Washington Football Team as part of its roster reduction Saturday.'s Jelani Scott wrote about Peterson playing in a familiar division. He was with the Vikings from 2007 to 2016.

Instead of joining a contender or waiting for an opportunity at a starting spot to open up, Peterson – the experienced alpha with a proven track record – opted to join a room brimming with hungry cubs. Lead back Kerryon Johnson, who's coming off an injury-plagued 2019 campaign, will look to have a bounce-back year in his third season, while 2020 second-round pick D'Andre Swift and promising talents Ty Johnson, 22, and Bo Scarborough, 23, seek to show they belong.

Note: The Lions on Monday placed Scarbrough on Injured Reserve.

After a promising rookie year, Kerryon Johnson was limited to eight games due to a knee injury and turned in 403 yards and three touchdowns (3.6 yards per carry). Ty Johnson and Scarborough valiantly shouldered the bulk of load, but it was evident Detroit needed more production from the position. Peterson's arrival should provide that, whether it be as a starter (if needed) or viable option in a backfield committee.

With Johnson in and out of the lineup, the Lions ranked in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards last season with 1,649 total yards and an average of 103.1 per game. Adding a motivated Peterson on a prove-it deal should help improve that figure.

Initially a first-round draft pick by Minnesota in 2007, Peterson spent 10 seasons with the Vikings. During that time, he racked up 11,747 yards and 97 touchdowns on 2,418 carries — all of which are franchise records.

Peterson earned seven Pro Bowl nods and garnered four All-Pro honors with the Vikings. Minnesota is scheduled to play Detroit in Weeks 9 and 17 of the 2020 season.