Monday, July 25, 2011
Vikings back-to-work FYI
By Kevin Seifert
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Readiness factor: Since the end of last season, the Minnesota Vikings have promoted Leslie Frazier from interim to permanent head coach, revamped their offensive staff and forged a new path at quarterback. The lockout hasn't just cost Frazier the chance to set a new tone in the locker room. He's also been unable to get his offense introduced, much less installed, and will enter training camp with a truly blank slate at quarterback. For those reasons, the lockout has hit the Vikings as hard as any team in the NFL. It will be a struggle to bring their offense online.
Biggest challenge: One way or the other, the Vikings must quickly identify and prepare a Week 1 starting quarterback. Rookie Christian Ponder received a playbook during the one-day lockout respite in April, but he has still missed valuable offseason prep work. Ponder is said to be smart, but starting as a rookie in Week 1 is difficult enough even with a full offseason. Should the Vikings seek a short-term answer in free agency? At the very least, they'll need a backup plan if Ponder needs more time.
Peterson decision looming? Tailback Adrian Peterson is entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $10.72 million in 2011. Will the Vikings allow him to play out the final year of the deal? Will they offer him an extension, if for no other reason than to lower his salary-cap number? Those questions were intentionally put off until after the lockout. Well, we're here. Peterson's future with the team hangs in the balance.
Key players without contracts for 2011: Defensive end Ray Edwards, linebacker Ben Leber, receiver Sidney Rice, nose tackle Pat Williams.