Will 2013 be the year the Vikings’ ship comes in?
For the Minnesota Vikings players, there were nothing but positive attitudes and a collection of smiles when I visited training camp in Mankato earlier this week. I was not sure if it was due to the fact that league Most Valuable Player, Adrian Peterson was back and healthy. Or, could it be the new stable of receivers the Vikings acquired, or drafted during the off-season? No, that wasn't it; even the players on defense had a certain sparkle in their eyes. I was baffled until I sat in the stands and looked to the west! Gage Hall, the dormitory with no air conditioning, which is where the Vikings stayed, and tried to sleep in during hot August nights was gone! Gage Hall was imploded earlier this summer and the team now sleeps comfortably in new, air-conditioned dorms!
In addition to the team’s positive attitude, there is another reason for hope. The Vikings now have a decent, former All-Pro quarterback, Matt Cassel, who will back up and have the ability to replace Christian Ponder if needed. The team also has its first left-footed punter since Bucky Scribner, who punted for the Vikings from 1987 to 1989. Jeff Locke is our new left-footed punter and was drafted this past April in the sixth round. Locke boomed the ball 70 yards from deep in his end-zone. Then, from the same spot, hit a 73-yarder (with no help from the wind) that sailed over rookie Cordarrelle Patterson! However, Patterson has the moves, size and speed that will give him plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents on special teams and at receiver. It took Adrian Peterson just one play to get the ball, hit the hole and burst through the line at a speed that had the crowd oohing and aahing! Local stand-out athlete Adam Thielen from Detroit Lakes also had the crowd oohing and aahing. Thielen made a spectacular catch by stretching out his body, snaring, and holding onto a strong pass thrown by McLeod Bethel-Thompson during a scrimmage.
I left camp thinking that the Vikings should go 10-6 like last year since they seem to be a better team and ahead of where they were the previous year. I felt that way until I looked at their tough schedule and saw that they only play seven home games at the Mall of America Field this year. The other home game is in London, September 29 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I made my picks and have them going 9-7. Hopefully that record will still get them into the playoffs this year which would at least give them a chance to bring their ship to port with the hope of a Super Bowl trophy!