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Published: Fri, 23 Jun 2017 03:13:36 GMT2017-06-23T03:13:36Z

 



Five position battles to watch in Vikings training camp

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:44:01 GMT2017-06-22T15:44:01Z

With the Vikings’ turnover in free agency and a slew of rookies added, more than a handful of positions are up for grabs on offense, defense and special teams. Some clarity was gained during the offseason program, such as Marshall Koehn’s legitimate chance to unseat Kai Forbath at kicker, but there’s much to sort out for the Vikings in training camp. Center: Third-year center Nick Easton held down the middle of the offensive line during much of spring practices and has led the competition with rookie third-round pick Pat Elflein, whom the Vikings view fits best at center after one season there with Ohio State. The Vikings moved trusty veteran Joe Berger to right guard to see how Easton and Elflein compete in what is a critical race for the retooled offensive line. Running back: The Vikings wanted competition in the backfield and they’re set up to achieve that. The offense looks destined for a committee approach with veteran Latavius Murray, rookie Dalvin Cook and Jerick McKinnon replacing Adrian Peterson. But who leads? When will Murray be healthy? He resumed running recently and, by most accounts, is expected to be ready to go by training camp after March ankle surgery. There can be roles for all three, but the most intriguing addition is the dynamic Cook, who started working with quarterback Sam Bradford more as the offseason progressed. Slot cornerback: Captain Munnerlyn provided an underrated service for the Vikings, especially in a solid past two seasons, manning the slot for the secondary. Without him, second-year talent Mackensie Alexander is expected to take a big step forward with veteran Terence Newman also taking reps in the middle of the defense. As the Vikings found when they parted ways with Antoine Winfield before the 2013 season, it can be difficult to find a steady hand at nickel back, which plays about 60 percent of the snaps in today’s NFL. Linebacker: The other 40 percent of defensive snaps will fall at weak-side linebacker, where Edmond Robinson and Emmanuel Lamur swapped reps this offseason in the role vacated by Chad Greenway’s retirement. The Vikings need to shore up the run defense, which ranked 16th in yards per carry (4.2) last season, and playing a critical role on first and second downs will be either Robinson (6-3, 245) or Lamur (6-4, 245), the biggest linebackers on the roster this side of Anthony Barr. Kicker: The Vikings have played in at least six one-score games per season since Mike Zimmer took over and effectively lowered the water level with a renewed defense. Low-scoring and tight games enhances the role of kicker, which has been under the microscope since Blair Walsh started to go off the rails in Minnesota. So the importance of the competition between Kai Forbath and Marshall Koehn shouldn’t be understated. The Vikings like Koehn’s big leg, but he’ll also need accuracy to get the edge on Forbath (15-15 on field goals last season).



Former Vikings coordinator Norv Turner remains open to coaching again

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 15:35:13 GMT2017-06-21T15:35:13Z

For the first time in over three decades, Norv Turner is not expected to be on an NFL coaching staff when training camps open next month. Turner, the former Vikings offensive coordinator, has not taken a new coaching position since he surprisingly resigned here last November, after disagreeing with head coach Mike Zimmer over the direction of a Vikings offense that lost its starting QB, running back and both tackles. At the time, Turner stressed that he had no plans to retire from football. The 65-year-old reiterated last night in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio that he remains open to the possibility of coaching again. “A lot of that would depend on the opportunity,” he said in the interview. In the meantime, while he waits for the right situation, Turner said he has been invited to drop in at several NFL training camps next month. He also said he got invites for similar cameos at a few different college programs. One was Michigan, where his son, Scott, the former Vikings quarterbacks coach, is an offensive analyst on Jim Harbaugh’s staff. “I’ve had a couple [coaches] reach out to me and ask if I could come in for two or three days to just visit and maybe help a little bit or give some opinions,” said Norv, who was on Zimmer’s staff from 2014-16. Once the actual games start being played, Turner will be unemployed for the first time since getting his start in coaching at Oregon in 1975. “I’m looking forward to football season as a fan or spectator,” Turner told SiriusXM. “But there will always be that coaching part of it in me.” We’ll likely have to wait until 2018 to see if he’ll get another chance.



Vikings expect TE David Morgan to bring a push in all-purpose role

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 17:57:44 GMT2017-06-20T17:57:44Z

Behind Vikings starting tight end Kyle Rudolph, his position group fields just one NFL catch between the other five guys in the room. That’s not necessarily where second-year tight end David Morgan may provide the biggest boost, anyway. Morgan, the former sixth-round pick who caught one pass for four yards as a rookie, could be a critical component of the Vikings’ retooled run game — a year removed from ranking last in the league. A road-grading tight end is part of what the Vikings missed last season, when Rhett Ellison made an impressive turnaround from a torn patellar tendon, but wasn’t as effective. The Vikings eyed Morgan (6-4, 265 pounds) as one of the 2016 draft’s top run blockers and, after a spring as the second tight end with the starters, they could rely on him to make a difference. “He is a guy that does a lot of dirty work; does not say a lot,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “Has good hands and catches the ball well in the pass game. He is just a tough guy who will compete. He likes to compete.” The Vikings claimed the 2015 NFC North crown on the back of the defense and Adrian Peterson, who often ran behind heavier personnel formations with multiple tight ends. Zimmer sought to be more unpredictable on offense and, with the additions of running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, they’re set up to achieve that goal. But too often last year, the Vikings failed to get the push up front they were used to seeing. Only the New York Jets scored fewer points per red-zone trip, according to Football Outsiders. Now with Ellison and fullback Zach Line off the roster, Morgan made quite a few appearances this spring as the Vikings focused on short-yardage and red-zone situations, among others. Defensive end Brian Robison had some high praise for the 24-year-old Morgan. “David is probably one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL, and not a lot of people have seen that yet,” Robison said. “But I think you are going to see that this year. He is going to be a very important part of our offense being able to run the ball because of what he can do at tight end as far as blocking defensive ends.” The Vikings drafted Morgan from a fledgling University of Texas-San Antonio football program that liked to run the ball (510 carries in 2015) more than pass (360 attempts). Morgan was still the Roadrunners’ leading receiver in his final college season while moving around the formations, lining up next to a tackle, in the backfield and split out wide. “David is really versatile,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “You can put him in there and he can block and I’ve got all the confidence in the world that if we need him to come in there in a two tight end set and kind of help things going in the run game, blocking in the pass protection he does a great job. But also, his route running. He’s got good speed, he’s got good hands.”



Saints sign first-rounder Ramczyk; all draft picks signed

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:55:39 GMT2017-06-23T00:55:39Z




Vikings begin to market Eagan development around new HQ

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 03:13:36 GMT2017-06-23T03:13:36Z

The Vikings on Thursday officially announced their marketing launch for Viking Lakes, a 200-acre project.



Saints sign first-rounder Ramczyk; all draft picks signed

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:55:37 GMT2017-06-23T00:55:37Z




Chiefs sign Andy Reid to extension, part with GM John Dorsey

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 22:20:51 GMT2017-06-22T22:20:51Z




U.S. Bank Stadium panel slashes salary of chairwoman, gives raises to staff

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:33:46 GMT2017-06-22T23:33:46Z

Move comes as stadium panel seeks a long-term person for the position.



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