Minnesota Vikings: 10 Impact Players For The 2010 Season
Vikings fans had a great year in 2009. The team was able to go 12-4 and win the NFC North.
The team made it to the NFC Championship game, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion, the New Orleans Saints, 31-28 in an overtime heartbreaker for the Vikings .
During the offseason, the Vikings picked up cornerback Lito Sheppard to add much-needed depth in the secondary, and drafted, among others, running back Toby Gerhart.
Most importantly, Brett Favre will be wearing the No. 4 jersey for the Vikings in 2010.
WR Sidney Rice
83 Receptions (12th in NFL)
1,312 Yards (4th in NFL)
8 Touchdowns (16th in NFL)
Last season, Sidney Rice went from a below average wide receiver to one of the NFL's elite targets. After his first Pro Bowl season, Rice hopes to pick up where he left off, and no one was happier to hear that Brett Favre would be returning to the Vikings.
Rice average 108 yards a game and scored seven of his eight regular-season touchdowns at home last season. On the road, Rice only averaged 58 yards a game and only had one game with more than 72 yards receiving.
If the Vikings want to improve this season and possibly win the Super Bowl, Rice needs to be able to perform as well on the road as he does at home. After all, if they make it to the Super Bowl, Rice will need to perform if they hope to win, and the Super Bowl is in Dallas this year.
DT Kevin Williams
30 Tackles (22 solo)
1 Forced Fumble
While Kevin Williams does not put up the most mind-blowing numbers, he, along with Pat Williams, clogs up the middle of the line better than just about anyone in the NFL.
He made his fifth Pro Bowl last season as he led a defensive line that allowed only 1,394 yards rushing last season, second best in the NFL.
Along with his performance on the field, Williams is one of the Vikings team captains and vocal leaders.
RB Adrian Peterson
1,383 Yards rushing (5th in NFL)
4.4 Yards per carry
18 Touchdowns (1st in NFL)
Going into last season, we knew Adrian Peterson could run the ball. Now we know that with a quarterback like Brett Favre, Peterson is a threat in both the air and ground game.
His 43 receptions and 436 yards are both more than he had in his previous two seasons combined.
While he was not able to get any receiving touchdowns (surprisingly he only has one receiving touchdown in his career), he made up for it with 18 on the ground, the most in the NFL.
Peterson's biggest flaw has always been his inability to hang on to the ball. He had seven fumbles last season alone. To be one of the games greats, he must lose this knack for fumbling the football.
If Peterson is able to get his yards per carry up to the 4.9 he has averaged over the course of his career while maintaining the numbers he had through the air last season, he will be a force to be reckoned with in 2010.
DB Antoine Winfield
5 Pass deflections
Defensive back is by far the biggest concern for the Vikings going into 2010. The Vikings allowed 3,494 yards and 26 touchdowns through the air while only picking off 11 balls.
When Cedric Griffin went down with a torn ACL, the Vikings needed to pick someone up, and did so by signing Lito Sheppard.
The one bright spot in Vikings secondary was Antoine Winfield. Even though he missed six games due to a right foot injury, he was named to his second straight Pro Bowl.
The key to a successful season for Winfield is for him to stay healthy. His high-contact style of play leaves him very injury prone, and subsequently, he has missed 12 games in the past three seasons
K Ryan Longwell
26/28 Field goals made (2nd in NFL)
54/55 Extra points made
132 Points (3rd in NFL)
The fact that Longwell did not make the Pro Bowl last year is simply astounding. His 92.9 percent field goal rate was the second best in the league, only to Neil Rackers' 94.1 percent.
He was perfect from beyond 50 yards last season, including a 52-yard boot.
He did miss a point after against the Bears that caused the game to go into overtime. If he wants to continue to wear the "C" on his chest, he must be able to make clutch kicks with the game on the line, especially the easy ones.
WR Percy Harvin
790 Receiving yards
Following a down year for Bernard Berrian, the No. 2 spot on the Vikings receiving corps is Harvin's for the taking.
He is unique in the fact that he can line up in the slot or in the backfield and is as much of a playmaker as he is a receiver.
The Vikings 4,156 yards passing was the eighth-best in the league, and if Berrian is able to play at full strength this season that number will likely increase.
LB Chad Greenway
99 Tackles (40th in NFL)
3 Interceptions (42nd in NFL)
1 Forced fumble
Greenway's 99 tackles led the Vikings in 2009, while his three interceptions where second-best to Cedric Griffin's four picks. And this all came in a down year for Greenway.
Having never had less than 105 tackles in a season until 2009, he will have his eyes set on hitting at least 100 tackles in 2010.
Greenway is one of the best linebackers in the league at picking the ball off. The only linebacker with more interceptions than Greenway was Houston's Brian Cushing, who had four picks in '09.
RB Toby Gerhart
4.53 Forty-yard-dash time
22 Bench reps
38 inch vertical jump
The Vikings drafted Toby Gerhart with their second pick in the NFL draft (2nd round, 51st overall).
Last season, Gerhart's 1,871 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns were the most in the NCAA.
He made a name for himself with his ability to run over defenders and pick up yards after contact.
After losing Chester Taylor in the offseason, Gerhart will see a lot of playing time as the No. 2 back on the depth chart.
Expect the Vikings to line up in a two-back set with both Gerhart and Peterson in short yards/goal line situations.
DE Jared Allen
14.5 Sacks (2nd in NFL)
5 Forced Fumbles (3rd in NFL)
Jared Allen has proven to be one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL.
His 14.5 sacks was the second most in the NFL last season. Seven-and-a-half of those sacks came against the rival Green Bay Packers, which makes him look that much better in the eyes of Viking fans.
With the Williams twins clogging up the middle of the line, it is Allen's job to attack the quarterback's blind side, and you can expect him to do it as well as he ever has in 2010.
QB Brett Favre
4,202 Passing yards (9th in NFL)
33 Touchdowns (2nd in NFL)
Who else did you expect?
At 40 years young, the man still has it. Last season, he put up as many touchdowns as Peyton Manning (33), while throwing more than half the number of interceptions as Manning (Favre had seven to Mannings 16). Manning won the NFL's MVP award last year, by the way.
He proved to be the missing ingredient to Viking success with the turnaround he helped this team have in 2009.
In 2010, we will just have to wait and see what kind of magic Favre has stored up his sleeve, and if it is as good as it was last season, we could be watching the Vikings in the Super Bowl.
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