5 Best Minnesota Vikings Players of the 2011 NFL Season

Soven Bery@@realsovenberySenior Analyst IJanuary 21, 2012

5 Best Minnesota Vikings Players of the 2011 NFL Season

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    Even amongst the rainiest of days there is always a bright spot. The rain fell hard on the 2011 season for the Minnesota Vikings. But they showed glimmers of hope throughout the process. And no, I'm not just talking about the third pick in the upcoming draft. 

    It wasn't exactly a rainbow but there were certain players that stepped up and played through the tough times. If journalists can criticize players at the drop of a hat (or in this case, a ball) then they better be able to back them up as well. 

    Here are five Minnesota Vikings players who shined through the rain in 2011. 

5. Percy Harvin

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    Percy Harvin led a lackluster receiving corps in 2011 but turned in a career year. The three-year veteran hauled in 87 receptions for 967 yards and six receiving touchdowns. Harvin led the team in all three of those categories. 

    He is a speedy receiver and definitely helped rookie quarterback Christian Ponder ease into the NFL. His real test will come in the 2012 NFL draft, though. If the team has faith in Harvin's ability then they won't draft Justin Blackmon. 

    While he didn't play like an All-Star, Harvin tried his best and put up great numbers. 

4. EJ Henderson

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    A bruising linebacker, EJ Henderson was a big part of the Minnesota defense this year. His 110 total tackles was the second best on the whole Vikings team. 

    Henderson is amazingly athletic and can make open-field tackles like it is nobody's business. He has the ability to disrupt a whole offense and proved that this season. 

    The nine-year veteran added 81 solo tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles on top of his 110 tackles. His dominant season was a bright spot in Minnesota this year. 

3. Chad Greenway

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    Greenway is the heart of the Vikings linebacker corps. His 152 tackles on the year was third in the league. That number also led Minnesota for total tackles. 

    The Iowa product averaged 9.5 tackles per game, good for third in the league for players that started every game. Not only is Greenway a great player but also a great person. This year he organized and hosted the annual Vikings Gridiron Gallop 5K fun run for the Vikings Women’s Organization. 

    Oh, and being selected to his first career Pro Bowl doesn't hurt either. 

2. Adrian Peterson

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    Sure, he only played in 12 games this season. But that alone should tell you how dominant and important Adrian Peterson is. 

    When healthy Peterson is one of the best backs in the league. Even when injured he ranked among the top 10 for rushing yards. His 12 touchdowns put him in second place for the season. He is an explosive player and a great runner; I don't think anyone is denying that. 

    Contrary to popular belief, 2011 was not a waste for Peterson. The five-year veteran honed his skills this season. If he stays healthy next year, then the league has to watch out. 

1. Jared Allen

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    Was there ever any doubt? 

    Jared Allen is one of the best defensive ends in the league and cemented that legacy this year. His 22 sacks led the league. On January 1, 2012, Allen set the franchise record for most sacks by a Viking. He was half a sack short of the all-time NFL record. 

    Allen has a unique ability to find the quarterback. And when he does, Allen morphs into a middle-schooler in the heat of "Kill the Carrier." He was also chosen as a Pro Bowler, one of two Vikings to achieve this exceptional honor. 

    In short, Allen is a beast.