Dalvin Cook has yet to run in pads for the Minnesota Vikings, and it will be some time before coaches begin to establish a pecking order for a backfield that hasn't really needed one for the better part of a decade. But Cook's early work has coach Mike Zimmer believing the Vikings might have a unique player on their hands.
"I think he's got a chance to be special," Zimmer said on Thursday. "There was a play yesterday that, Xavier Rhodes is trying to catch him, and he's hauling now. I just think this guy has got a chance to be pretty good. Now, he's got some things he's got to work on, like all young backs, but I've been very impressed with him this spring."
It's looking more and more that Cook will line up as the starter in Week 1. The Vikings had a lot of problems running the ball last year, but signed tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers and drafted center Pat Elflein (3rd round) and guard Danny Isidora in an effort to rebuild the offensive line. Cook has had a good spring and his primary competition (Latavius Murray) has been sidelined as he recovers from ankle surgery.
Murray had his walking boot removed Tuesday, 10 weeks following March 22 surgery on his right ankle, and was able to walk around freely Wednesday during an organized team activities session. Murray was asked afterward if he anticipates being 100 percent when training camp begins in late July.
“The goal is just to try to be available during training camp at some point,” Murray said. “Right now, everything is pointing toward that. I’m just going to trust the process and not rush the process.”
This doesn't sound like good news. Signs are pointing to rookie Dalvin Cook opening the season as the Vikings' starter. The Vikings had major problems running the ball last season, but they have revamped the offensive line and are poised for improvement. The early-fifth-round price tag for Cook seems reasonable.
Friday, May 26, 2017, 10:14pm
Laquon Treadwell was in the team's top three-receiver sets during the Vikings' first open OTA on Wednesday, working with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. And after practice, Shurmur sounded impressed with what he's seen from Treadwell since the Vikings welcomed players back into their building last month.
"He’s had a great, in my opinion, five-and-a-half weeks," Shurmur said. "He came back and he was really on point with what he’s supposed to be doing mentally. He’s been out here competing and doing a nice job running routes and catching the ball. Understanding where he fits in the running game and who to block. To this point, we’ve been really pleased with his progress based on a year ago."
Treadwell caught just one pass as a rookie, though it sounds as if he has made a lot of progress as he heads into his sophomore season. Given his disastrous rookie year, we wouldn't expect him to outproduce either Diggs or Thielen, but he'll have a chance to contribute as the team's WR3 if he can beat out Jarius Wright and Michael Floyd.
Michael Floyd's short foray into unemployment has ended.
The maligned former first-round pick is signing with the Minnesota Vikings after a quiet free agency, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the situation. Floyd, 27, most recently played with the New England Patriots. He was dismissed from the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 14 -- two days after he was arrested on drunken driving charges in Scottsdale, Arizona.
At one point, Floyd was a 24-year-old receiver with good size (6'3") and speed (4.47 40-yard dash) who was coming off of a 65-catch, 1,041-yard sophomore season with the Cardinals. Since then, his targets dropped for four consecutive seasons and the Cardinals ultimately cut him. He'll get a fresh start in Minnesota, though he'll have to compete with another first round pick (Laquon Treadwell) for playing time.
After a 1,485-yard season in 2015, Peterson gained just 72 yards on 37 carries (1.9 YPC) in 2016 while his season was interrupted by meniscus surgery. He’s 32 years old and doesn’t run well out of the shotgun, which has become the norm in today’s NFL. We don't believe he'll usurp Ingram as the starter, though he should see a significant role a la Tim Hightower. Ingram may become a draft day value if his ADP takes a hit after this signing.
Eifert doesn’t know when he’ll be cleared to resume regular workouts or work in the May and June camps, but he says he’ll ready for training camp. He isn’t running full steam yet, but he’s been running enough that he feels he’s close to being in tip-top shape.
“I’ll be ready and healthy and strong and be ready to go by the time it’s go time,” Eifert said. “I’m close.”
“It will be nice to have somewhat of an offseason to get ready for the year,” Eifert said. “Instead of coming into camp straight off of injury.”
When Eifert is healthy, well, the numbers say it.
There is that .650 winning percentage and those .54 TDs per game. That’s what eight-time Pro Bowler Antonio Gates has in 204 games. No one is near Rob Gronkowksi’s .77 TDs per game, but consider that Jimmy Graham is at .56, Jordan Reed at .43, one-time Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph at .36, Greg Olsen at .34, Travis Kelce at .29, 10-time Pro Bowler Jason Witten at .28, and Delanie Walker at .19, and you’re looking at a guy that scores with the best of them.
In 21 games over the last two seasons, Eifert has averaged 3.9 catches for 48 yards and 0.86 TD per game (on 5.8 T/G). That equates to 13.8 PPG (PPR), which is what Travis Kelce averaged last season as fantasy’s #1 tight end. It will be tough for Eifert to maintain that touchdown rate, though he did manage 0.82 TD per game in the 17 games over the last two seasons that A.J. Green also played, which underlines Eifert’s red zone role in the passing game. If his touchdowns regress, he’ll be hard-pressed to make up the difference in receptions or yards, since his targets are low, relatively speaking.
The New Orleans Saints are not done yet looking at big names on the NFL free-agent market.
Related players: Mark Ingram
The Vikiogns are a group that will spend a decent chunk of the offseason trying to establish its identity on offense. Here's an idea: balance.
The Vikings haven't ranked in the top 20 in both running and passing yards since 2009, when Brett Favre shared a backfield with Peterson. Since that season, one facet of the Vikings' offense has been ranked 26th or worse in the league in every year but one: 2013, when the league's most porous defense forced the Vikings to play catch-up enough that their passing game ascended all the way to 23rd.
"We were almost totally 100 percent one-dimensional, which made it extra tough for the quarterback," Zimmer said at the NFL owners meetings last week. "Teams were able to load up on us, rush the quarterback, play more coverage. I thought [Bradford] did great. He hung in there and showed his toughness. He's an extremely accurate thrower. The guys in the locker room, he developed a relationship with those guys, even though he came in [eight] days before the season, and was able to learn the system and so on."
Last year, the Vikings' 18th-ranked passing offense was their best since 2009, but they were hindered by a 32nd-ranked ground game that made their offense almost inoperable at times.
If a potential contract is closer to minimum levels, or structured in a way in which it is heavy with incentives, maybe it could be a fit for Bill Belichick's club. Or, at the least, the Patriots now have more motivation to explore if it could be a fit.
That seems like the best way to sum up Monday's meeting.
Many didn't think Peterson would be a fit for the Pats, mainly because of cost. It's also a deep RB class in this year's draft and Peterson is challenged in pass protection. The Pats could use a power back, however, and it seems as if they are doing their due diligence with Peterson.
Friday, March 31, 2017, 9:55pm
Vikings HC Mike Zimmer said that RB Latavius Murray’s signing doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be an every-down back, but he’s confident that Murray will help improve a run game that struggled in 2016.
According to the head coach, Minnesota’s rushing performance last season caused its offense to be one-dimensional. The Vikings were forced to continually pass because of an inability to gain any momentum on the ground.
“It allowed opposing defenses to lay their ears back, play a lot of coverage,” Zimmer said. “So in a perfect world, I want to be able to run the football, [use] play action and still be able to throw like we were able to throw it.”
Related players: Jerick McKinnon
Jerick McKinnon will likely continue to get work, but the good news is Zimmer did compliment Murray on his pass protection and pass catching, so it seems like he could be on the field in any situation. Murray should continue to get chances at in-close touchdowns, too. Right now we have Murray ranked 22nd on our RB list.
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REPLAYBurleson on Murray: 'He's A Home Run Hitter'00:00/01:42
From the Vikings' official website:
Vikings RB Latavius Murray had successful ankle surgery today. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were aware of the required surgery prior to signing Latavius on March 16. Latavius is expected to fully recover and be available for training camp.
The team was aware of Murray's ankle injury at the time of the signing, so this doesn't appear to be much of an issue at this point.
Murray wasn't particularly good last season, averaging 4.0 YPC behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. (Oakland's two other running backs, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, averaged a combined 5.6 YPC.) He joins a Minnesota offense that struggled mightily in the running game -- their running backs averaged 3.2 YPC -- so this does not look like a good match. Murray's arrival hurts Jerick McKinnon, who was otherwise shaping up to be a nice middle round value. In Oakland, the Raiders are left with DeAndre Washington (104 touches, 582 yards, 2 TD) and Jalen Richard (112 touches, 685 yards, 3 TD). Washington probably has the edge since he saw 24 carries (for 165 yards and two scores) in the final three games while Richard toted the ball 15 times in the same span. The Raiders are likely to address the position in the offseason, but it's possible that they go into the season with a plan to use Washington and Richard in a committee. The two youngsters have proven capable.
Big restricted free-agent deal:
Vikings and WR Adam Thielen reach agreement on three-year deal, per source.
Thielen stays in Minnesota.
$17 M deal that could get to $27 M with incentives, including $11 M guaranteed.
Thielen broke out in his third season with 69 catches for 967 yards and five touchdowns. He scored more fantasy points than Stefon Diggs, yet he's going seven rounds later in early MFL10s. In fairness, Diggs missed three games, but these two are closer in value than their ADPs would indicate.
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