Minnesota Vikings: 5 Players Who Will Have Career Years
There's no doubt that 2010-2011 has been extremely disappointing for not only Vikings fans, but fans of every professional Minnesota sport.
The Timberwolves again failed to hit 20 wins, the Twins are off to their worst start in franchise history, the Wild missed the playoffs yet again, the Vikings started their 2010 season just like their 2009 season ended, utter failure, and worst of all, the Lynx dropped their season opener despite the arrival of Maya Moore. Things couldn't get any worse.
There is good news for each one of those teams, but it doesn't change the fact that it has definitely been miserable the last year-plus.
With the lockout still looming over the NFL, players have turned to organizing their own workouts. While the Vikings are not getting together like other teams, their players are still working out with other players from around the NFL.
Some good players may be leaving while other good ones are stepping up. Of the remaining players, which ones will have a career year?
*Please note that in order to be considered, players must have completed at least 3 years in the NFL.
5.) Adrian Peterson
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The list starts out with a bang. While Peterson has already had a fantastic start to his career, his 2011 season may be his best yet.
He's currently working out in Texas with Vince Young and others. Last offseason, he worked on building muscle and increasing his speed. He responded by putting up a solid year despite missing a game plus due to Tarvaris Jackson and his inability to hand off correctly.
Peterson will be asked to do a lot in 2011. With a rookie quarterback under center, Peterson will be asked to carry the offense much like he did in 2007-2008 and 2010.
For Peterson to have a career year, he would have to run for nearly 1,800 yards and double-digit touchdowns, something very few running backs have ever been able to do. In other words, Peterson will have to play MVP to have a career year.
If anyone can break 1,800 yards in 2011, it's Peterson. Rated as the best offensive player in the NFL by ESPN with Chris Johnson (only because Bill Williamson is a terrible writer), Peterson can still run better than anyone in football.
4.) Husain Abdullah
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Abdullah was perhaps the Vikings' biggest surprise last season (other than their overall play). After starting the season off as the unexpected starter, Abdullah blossomed into a decent safety. While his play for the first two weeks was very unimpressive, he really started to come on late in the season.
Abdullah led the Vikings in interceptions with three in 15 games. That doesn't sound too impressive, but considering he was only a special teams player for two seasons and randomly became a starter says a lot.
Abdullah has good speed and can tackle very well. While he dropped several potential interceptions in 2010, he should only get better with a year of starting experience under his belt.
He should find himself as a starter come September. After all, he's already proven to be a more capable safety than Madieu Williams. If Williams starts and Abdullah sits, Frazier should be fired. Bad angles and horrible coverages skills are Madieu's biggest weaknesses. Unfortunately, they are necessities for an NFL safety.
I don't think it's too much to say that Abdullah can improve on his solid 75 tackles, 7 passes defensed, and 3 interceptions from 2010.
3.) Cedric Griffin
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Griffin's last two seasons have ended with torn ACL's. In January of 2010 in the NFC Championship game against the Saints, Griffin tore his left ACL. In October of 2010, Griffin tore his right ACL. Can a guy with two bad knees really have a career year in 2011?
Griffin was picked on early in his career. Playing opposite of Antoine Winfield will do that to you. However, Griffin matured quickly and became a promising young cornerback and led the team in interceptions in 2009.
Griffin's play mimics that of Antoine Winfield. He is a great tackling cornerback who excels in pressing the receiver as well as zone coverage.
With nearly 11 months to recover both knees and get back in shape, Griffin could start the season as the No. 1 cornerback. With Winfield in the slot much like last season, Griffin could see more balls being thrown his way if he's asked to guard the opposing team's best receiver.
Griffin is one of my favorite players. Seeing him laying on the turf in October was almost as painful as watching E.J. Henderson's horrific femur injury the previous year. The way he was down, you could tell that bad news was coming his way.
He can tackle extremely well and matured into a solid cornerback. I only hope that he can recover from his injuries. If he can come back to full strength, he could be a force at the position for several years.
2.) Brian Robison
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I pleaded my case two seasons ago to have Robison start in place of Ray Edwards. I wanted Ray traded last offseason while his value was higher than ever. Now, Edwards will walk away from the Vikings while they receive little to nothing in turn.
Edwards will be a highly sought after free agent. The Vikings will likely not retain his services unless the current CBA holds. Even so, Edwards has been on record saying that he will not play for less than what his backup is making.
That's a fair statement. However, Ray thinks his value is far greater than what it really is. The Vikings will not give Edwards the money he thinks he's worth.
Robison has played both at defensive tackle as well as defensive end over the last few seasons. The former fourth-round pick is a great pass rusher who needs to brush up his run defending skills. He's built some extra muscle and looks to be a good bet to start in 2011 with his newly acquired deal (reported at three years and $14 million).
The Vikings are putting a lot of faith into Robison. Many people will state that Robison is too small to play every down, but a quick look at other left defensive ends shows this to be a false statement. Robison is currently above 270 pounds and should be ready for a solid season along Jared Allen and Kevin Williams.
Playing along side some really great players will only help Robison as he becomes an everyday starter.
1.) Bryant McKinnie
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In 2010, Bryant McKinnie was one of many problems the Vikings had to deal with. After a very undeserved Pro Bowl selection in the 2009-2010 season (followed by the first ever dismissal from the game), McKinnie thought he was on top of the world.
His cocky attitude transferred into the 2010 season. He didn't get into shape and as a result, ended up playing at 365 pounds, over 20 pounds his normal playing weight. He was extremely slow off the ball and as a result, was beaten quite often.
However, McKinnie seems to have been calmed by a rather odd source.
McKinnie has been working out in Florida with tennis start Venus Williams. McKinnie has reportedly dropped over 10 pounds while improving his footwork and agility. That's good news for Vikings fans that saw McKinnie play his worst football of his career.
I was one of many Vikings fans that wanted McKinnie out of Minnesota. However, if reports are true and McKinnie plans on slimming down below 340, he could have his best year yet.
McKinnie is out to prove to everyone that he is deserving of a starting gig in 2011. McKinnie was called out in 2010 and seems to be responding to his critics. On top of some good charity work and less time in strip clubs, McKinnie is having a great offseason. Let's hope all this work is transferred to the playing field.