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State of the Vikings - Training Camp Preview
John Tuvey
July 27, 2009
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This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2009.
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Training Camp Opens: July 30
Head Coach: Brad Childress (4th year)
Stadium: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (Dome)  Surface: FieldTurf
2009 Schedule   2009 Roster   2008 Statistics   2008 Record: 10-6

QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2006 46 161 2 538 330 61% 3371 10.2 11 20 17 31
2007 59 278 3 427 246 58% 2817 11.5 12 14 31 30
2008 45 146 1 450 266 59% 3213 12.1 21 17 26 15

Quarterback - The Vikings thought they addressed the quarterback position much earlier in the offseason with the trade for Sage Rosenfels and the plan for Sage and Tarvaris Jackson to compete for the starting gig in training camp. Now, they sit and wait for Brett Favre to make a decision. While Favre waffles and the Vikes wait, at least a couple things are certain: first, after a horrendous showing in Minnesota’s home playoff loss last year Jackson is not the solution; second, whether it’s Favre or Rosenfels the Vikings will receive an upgrade at the position. With Rosenfels the hope is that he improves the Vikings’ completion percentage and maintains his playmaking ability while relying on the running game to help eliminate the mistakes that came from him trying to do too much. With Favre… well, by embracing the once-hated former Packer, the Vikings and their fans are selling their souls for a shot at that elusive Super Bowl ring. Update: Favre has announced he will stay retired. The saga ends?

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2006 393 1648 4.2 10 138 106 77% 901 1 18 10 19
2007 428 2326 5.4 19 96 66 69% 693 1 1 1 3
2008 464 2159 4.7 14 118 83 70% 568 2 4 4 14

Running Backs - Regardless of who is playing quarterback, this team is built to run and will go as far as Adrian Peterson’s legs take them. Chester Taylor remains as a solid backup and third-down back, but the Vikings lack a fullback—either the smash-mouth lead blocking type or a more classic WCO pass catcher. Rookie right tackle Phil Loadholt should improve the weakest link along the offensive line, but center John Sullivan has Pro Bowl shoes to fill after the departure of veteran Matt Birk. Of course, there’s a certain quarterback whose very presence under center would prevent opposing defenses from stuffing the box against the run and opening up the field for Peterson.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 301 157 52% 2166 13.8 13 19 16
2007 291 159 55% 1983 12.5 9 19 24
2008 241 129 54% 1884 14.6 13 25 15

Wide Receivers - Viking receivers have been handcuffed by a run-first offense as well as subpar quarterbacking; witness the abysmal connection rate the past three seasons. Somehow Bernard Berrian managed to put up good numbers last season anyway, and the prospect of having Rosenfels or Favre throwing more catchable balls his way is tempting. Sidney Rice is reportedly healthy after being limited last season by a knee injury; he’s a popular sleeper candidate entering his third pro season, though the arrival of Percy Harvin is stealing some of his thunder. The Vikings went all-in with their first-round selection of Harvin; his game-breaking ability could make this offense almost indefensible, but to reach that point he’ll have to answer a multitude of questions: How will he be used? Can he avoid off-the-field problems? Can he stay healthy? Can a Florida receiver make it in the NFL? Bobby Wade gets lost in the shuffle, but if Harvin falters he’s a solid security blanket coming out of the slot.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 104 67 64% 518 7.7 3 20 25
2007 64 40 63% 449 11.2 2 28 29
2008 85 55 65% 765 13.9 7 15 8

Tight Ends
- Visanthe Shiancoe was a top-five fantasy tight end a year ago, yet somehow he was underexposed—on the field, at least. Like the wideouts, Shank should benefit from improved quarterback play—especially if the quarterback in purple is Favre, who has demonstrated a distinct fondness for tight ends throughout his career. Jim Kleinsasser also returns, though his role is more of another offensive tackle than any sort of pass-catcher.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - Obviously, the biggest news coming out of Mankato will be if and when Favre shows up. If he doesn’t, then Rosenfels will need to distance himself from both Jackson and Favre’s shadow as he takes the reins. The running game is a given, though those looking to spend that first overall pick on AP will want to make sure the revamped line is coming together nicely. And while the Vikings probably won’t tip their hand too much, they’ll need to get Harvin work in the various roles they expect to use him in. The rookie is a threat to go the distance on every play, but he still needs to be on the field in order to do so.

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Ease of Schedule for Running Backs
Ease of Schedule for Receivers
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