After impressive improvement in 2012, Vikings face more skepticism and challenges this year

  • Article by: DAVE CAMPBELL , AP Pro Football Writer
  • Updated: July 23, 2013 - 1:37 PM

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings have reached a crossroad, coming off a remarkable season during which they improved by seven victories, made the playoffs and watched Adrian Peterson transition from ACL rehab patient to MVP award winner.

Slip back a bit, and 2013 will likely be widely viewed as a disappointment. To pick up where their progress left off last year, though, the Vikings will need just as much to go right as in that surprising 2012 season. Similar to last year, when they were coming off a 3-13 mess, the Vikings have again set out amid skepticism from analysts and fans about whether they're built to stay on a title-contending track.

By the end of 2013, they'll know whether last season was simply a fluke or a foundation for the future.

"Super Bowl: I know that's the goal as a group," Peterson said at the end of minicamp. "I feel like we've got the right pieces in place. Everyone has that vision in their mind."

Five things to know about the Vikings as camp begins:

1. PONDERING THE FUTURE: Christian Ponder will be the starter when the Vikings open at Detroit on Sept. 8. But he has a lot to prove before his status is ensured for next year, let alone for the rematch against the Lions that wraps up the regular season on Dec. 29. This time, the Vikings have a better option as a backup in Matt Cassel. General manager Rick Spielman has often said he needs three years to evaluate quarterbacks, bringing the former first-round draft pick into a crucial window. Not only does Ponder have a stronger offensive line, his receivers have been upgraded over that span, too, despite the departure of the do-it-all Percy Harvin. Greg Jennings was signed from Green Bay to be the leader, Jerome Simpson was brought back on another low-risk one-year contract and Cordarrelle Patterson was selected with the third of three late first-round draft picks. Tight end Kyle Rudolph, the Pro Bowl MVP, will also be relied on even more as a down-field weapon. "Christian, I'm excited. He's a great quarterback. He's going to shock people," Jennings said last month.

2. ALL DAY CAN GO ALL YEAR: Peterson left no doubt about his determination, focus and seemingly superhuman skills by returning from reconstructive surgery on his left knee to rush for 2,097 yards, 9 short of the NFL record. If Ponder can improve, the Vikings offense should be more balanced, which would make cracking the 2,000-yard mark again even more challenging for Peterson. But he's one of the rare players for whom any feat seems possible.

3. UNDER THE DOME: The Vikings have long enjoyed a significant advantage under the noisy Metrodome's roof on the spongy artificial turf, but this is their last year in the quirky, outdated stadium. They'll play two seasons outside at the University of Minnesota before opening their new indoor venue in 2016. They'll also have one fewer home game this fall, too, when they "host" the Pittsburgh Steelers in London on Sept. 29.

4. THE NEW DEAL, ON THE DEFENSIVE LINE: The front four has long been a strength of this franchise, from the Alan Page-led Purple People Eaters to the era of Hall of Fame pass rushers Chris Doleman and John Randle to the current group led by Jared Allen. But Allen, fellow defensive ends Everson Griffen and Brian Robison and stalwart defensive tackle Kevin Williams have all begun the final year of their current contracts. Given age, productivity and salary cap factors, envisioning all of them still around in 2014 is all but impossible. So not only will these guys need to re-establish their worth, for either their present employer or other teams on the open market, but the Vikings themselves must make some important decisions about who to invest in for the future. First-round draft pick Sharrif Floyd is in line to replace Williams, a six-time Pro Bowl pick.

5. STILL UNDER SIDELINE SCRUTINY: Despite the feel-good vibe and vast improvement he helped produce last season, Leslie Frazier hasn't yet secured his future with the franchise. The Vikings routinely exercised their option for 2014 on his contract, but since coaches rarely enter the final year of a deal without an extension, this is another prove-it season for Frazier, a subject he has tread carefully around in public.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Denver 7 3rd Qtr
Cincinnati 20
Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Carolina 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Detroit 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Denver 82 FINAL
Charlotte 110
Portland 83 4th Qtr 8:42
Houston 100
Utah 75 4th Qtr 5:32
Memphis 77
Toronto 95 4th Qtr 7:00
Chicago 96
Atlanta 67 3rd Qtr 5:26
Dallas 48
LA Clippers 72 3rd Qtr 6:35
San Antonio 83
Sacramento 9:30 PM
Golden State
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Washington 2
Nashville 5 FINAL
Columbus 1
Pittsburgh 3 3rd Prd 2:42
Florida 3
Arizona 9:00 PM
Vancouver
San Jose 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Calgary 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ark-Little Rock 64 FINAL
Bradley 54
Brown 67 FINAL
Central Conn St 55
Stetson 59 FINAL
Florida State 63
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
Northwestern 63
Ohio 49 FINAL
George Washington 77
Southern Utah 61 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 70
Elon 67 FINAL
Kennesaw St 65
Dartmouth 49 FINAL
Penn State 69
Green Bay 70 FINAL
UC Irvine 72
DePaul 68 FINAL
Colorado 82
Lewis & Clark 49 FINAL
Portland 71
SC State 59 FINAL
Abilene Christian 65
Manhattan 71 FINAL
Fordham 57
Truett-McConnell 57 FINAL
Ga Southern 90
Citadel 56 FINAL
Michigan State 82
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Ohio State 93
Gardner-Webb 89 FINAL
Purdue 84
Idaho 68 FINAL
Northern Ky 81
Fairfield 66 FINAL
Albany 77
North Dakota St 61 FINAL
Alcorn State 50
UT Martin 37 FINAL
Butler 64
SE Louisiana 65 FINAL
UCF 70
Oakland 60 FINAL
Clemson 70
Florida A&M 57 FINAL
East Carolina 75
Eastern Ky 66 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 69
IUPU-Ft Wayne 43 FINAL
Illinois State 68
Norfolk State 74 FINAL
James Madison 71
Binghamton 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 69
Towson 56 FINAL
Navy 61
Long Island 73 FINAL
New Hampshire 72
Northern Ill 66 FINAL
Notre Dame 91
William & Mary 62 FINAL
Old Dominion 69
Liberty 47 FINAL
Princeton 65
Delaware 81 FINAL
Robert Morris 84
MD-Eastern Shore 82 FINAL
St Bonaventure 80
Colgate 43 FINAL
Syracuse 78
Kansas 52 FINAL
Temple 77
Mercer 54 FINAL
Tennessee 64
East Tenn St 60 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 84
Va Military 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Bucknell 53 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
Alabama A&M 62 FINAL
Western Mich 71
New Orleans 59 FINAL
Indiana 79
Columbia 65 FINAL
Connecticut 80
Long Beach State 49 FINAL
St Johns 66
Wofford 44 FINAL
West Virginia 77
Southern U 65 2nd Half 0:14
Baylor 68
UAB 63 2nd Half 1:05
Chattanooga 82
Char Southern 54 FINAL
Colorado State 75
North Florida 70 FINAL
Iowa 80
NC Central 49 2nd Half 3:20
Jackson State 51
Rice 69 1st OT 3:41
Lamar 72
Central Mich 89 FINAL
McNeese State 56
Coppin State 56 FINAL
Michigan 72
Furman 76 FINAL
Minnesota 86
SE Missouri St 46 2nd Half 2:00
Ole Miss 75
Weber State 51 FINAL
Oklahoma 85
Grambling St 39 FINAL
TCU 80
Loyola-Chicago 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 44
Incarnate Word 47 FINAL
Tulsa 76
Penn 50 FINAL
Vanderbilt 79
Chicago State 38 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 63
Simpson 62 FINAL
Drake 84
Tenn Tech 77 2nd Half 2:11
UMKC 56
Murray State 73 2nd Half 3:44
Southern Ill 66
Oral Roberts 45 FINAL
Missouri State 52
Jacksonville St 33 2nd Half 14:38
Air Force 40
Milwaukee 24 2nd Half
Arkansas 35
Wisconsin 32 2nd Half
California 20
Coll of Charleston 15 2nd Half
LSU 35
North Dakota 29 2nd Half 18:57
Marquette 26
Northern New Mexico 20 2nd Half
New Mexico St 39
UC Santa Barbara 30 2nd Half 20:00
Oregon 36
Miami-Florida 30 1st Half 0:52
Providence 33
Northeastern 40 2nd Half
St Marys-CA 38
Kent State 37 1st Half 1:46
Texas-El Paso 41
UC Davis 30 2nd Half
Northern Colorado 29
Lewis-Clark State 30 2nd Half 20:00
Eastern Wash 43
Walla Walla 29 2nd Half 19:40
Portland State 48
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Marshall 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:30 PM
Houston
UC Riverside 10:00 PM
San Diego St
Tulane 10:00 PM
Washington
Loyola Marymount 10:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Hawaii
BYU 48 FINAL
Memphis 55
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 68 FINAL
Southern U 52
Xavier 60 FINAL
Kennesaw St 61
Eastern Michigan 52 FINAL
Michigan 81
Brescia 56 FINAL
Marshall 127
(21) West Virginia 54 FINAL
Ohio State 96
UMBC 87 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 78
Cornell 79 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 61
St Bonaventure 70 FINAL
Georgetown 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Northeastern 62
Eastern Washington 67 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 63 FINAL
Texas Southern 69
Butler 72 FINAL
Illinois State 60
UC Davis 59 FINAL
(16) Stanford 71
Washington St 87 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 60
Sacramento St 94 FINAL
San Jose St 97
SIU-Edwardsville 74 FINAL
UMKC 58
Oakland 92 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 84
Belmont 43 FINAL
(14) Georgia 62
George Mason 83 FINAL
Longwood 61
Kansas 81 FINAL
Creighton 84
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Kansas State 68
UT Martin 65 FINAL
Missouri 74
Hampton 67 FINAL
DePaul 86
Florida State 65 FINAL
Tulane 54
Murray State 44 FINAL
Illinois 64
Fla Gulf Coast 74 FINAL
Arkansas State 68
BYU 27 2nd Half 16:27
Utah State 27
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close