The Minnesota Vikings began their organized team activities (OTA's) Tuesday in preparation for the upcoming season. Wednesday, the team opens its doors to the media who will get their first look at the 2013-2014 squad.
Big year for Christian Ponder:
Ponder enters his second season as the starting quarterback and third overall in the league. After a un and down season a year ago that saw a strong start and finish and a slump in the middle, Ponder is the biggest question for this team.
GM Rick Spielman went all in on Ponder and has stated that his quarterback has met his expectations in the first two years. Typically quarterbacks take a big step forward in their third year in the league. That makes this year critical for Ponder. With Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson as additional weapons, Ponder looks to bring consistent production to the passing game.
The man in the middle:
The team used Jasper Brinkley as middle linebacker last year before moving on. The logical heir is Erin Henderson who played on the outside last season. The team didn't address the gap in the middle in the draft or in free agency so Henderson will be the guy at least for now.
A year later:
Last year as media converged onto Winter Park, Adrian Peterson was running up and down the steep hill on the west side of the outdoor practice field as he rehabbed from knee surgery.
This year is a completely different deal. Peterson is coming off a near record setting season and is hungry to run over, around and through the NFL. There is no reason to believe he can't surpass what he did a year ago. He will play his part in trying to get the Vikings back into the playoffs.
Will the first round players stand out?:
Spielman grabbed three first round players and all three have the potential of starting for the team on day one. On the defensive side of the ball, tackle Sharrif Floyd was selected as a replacement for Kevin Williams after this season, but his impact may be felt sooner than that. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes gives the team a bigger player on the outside to matchup with Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall who they see twice each during the regular season. On the offensive side of the ball, Patterson will give Ponder another target. Patterson played one year at Tennessee but has big play ability downfield the Vikings lacked a year ago.