The Minnesota Vikings have entered training camp with the same running back for the last ten years. For 2017, things will look pretty different. With Peterson off to New Orleans, there is a hole at the RB position that will need addressing. Also, when will Teddy Bridgewater be back? Will he back up Sam Bradford when he returns?
Sadly, the Bridgewater situation won’t be solved during training camp, but other ones will be. Let’s take a look at what you should watch for during Vikings training camp.
3 Position Battles to Watch
1. Running Back
Latavius Murray vs. Dalvin Cook
This really is weird talking about a position dominated by Peterson for so long. Whatever, life goes on.
This is an interesting position to watch. Murray would be my favorite to win starting role had he not missed offseason workouts due to an ankle injury. Now, Murray is hoping to be ready at “some point during training camp”, giving Cook the opportunity to solidify the starting job. Who’s Cook? A flat out stud.
Dalvin Cook broke 92 tackles last yr., 16 more than any other rookie RB. He makes a living off creating plays & getting yds. after contact pic.twitter.com/SUoRbJsyJv
— J.R. (@JReidDraftScout) July 12, 2017
If Murray can return at a decent time during camp, maybe he challenges Cook for the spot, but odds are Cook continues to impress the coaching staff with his explosiveness.
Let’s see if Cook can hold off Murray for the job.
Emmanuel Lamur vs. Edmond Robinson
The Vikings are looking for someone to replace Chad Greenway at the weak-side linebacker position and these two guys are next up. Lamur sat out part of the summer workouts with an undisclosed injury, giving Robinson first-team reps during OTAs. Lamur has more experience here, but all signs point toward a healthy competition during training camp. All the Vikings ask is for the winner to help defend the run game, where they ranked 16th in yards per carry (4.2) last season.
Kai Forbath vs. Marshall Koehn
Forbath went 15-15 on field goals last year, but he wasn’t all perfect.
78 days to NFL season: Kai Forbath made 78.6% of his extra point attempts last season, the lowest rate of any kicker (minimum five attempts) pic.twitter.com/K0oaGeiWco
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 21, 2017
Koehn’s addition to the team makes things interesting as he comes in with an “extremely strong leg”. Vikings GM Rick Spielman said the two kickers will compete in a “big training camp battle”. It sounds like we’re going to have a kick-off!! I’m excited.
Ready to Breakout: DE Danielle Hunter
I hyped this dude up when I picked him as my breakout guy for the Vikings in late June. Here’s my reasoning.
Hunter played in 57% of the defensive snaps last season and logged an eye-opening 12.5 sacks. Peep this stat tweeted by Pro Football Focus.
Danielle Hunter had the highest pass rushing productivity rating of any NFC North edge defender in 2016. pic.twitter.com/qUg73wyRET
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 19, 2017
He’s expected to see 80% of the defensive snaps this season, so I’m expecting big things.
Fantasy Sleeper AND Rookie to Watch: Dalvin Cook
I had to go with Cook for both of these picks. The dude is being hyped up big time by the coaching staff and has a real good chance of starting week 1. With Sam Bradford at QB, it’s hard to pick a wide receiver as the fantasy sleeper so I felt Cook was most appropriate (sorry Sam it’s not you it’s me). I’m excited to watch Dalvin “cook” up some offense in MIN this year (boooo, bad joke Dustin).
If the Vikings can maintain a strong run game in 2017 and improve defensively against the run, we can expect them to finish over .500 and fight for a playoff spot. If they make the playoffs, I hope Bridgewater is healthy.