- Associated Press - Monday, August 25, 2014


New faces: Head coach Mike Zimmer, offensive coordinator Norv Turner, rookie LB Anthony Barr, CB Captain Munnerlyn, DT Linval Joseph, LB Jasper Brinkley, rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater, rookie RB Jerick McKinnon.

Key losses: DE Jared Allen, DT Kevin Williams, RB Toby Gerhart, LB Erin Henderson, DT Letroy Guion, CB Chris Cook.

Strengths: RB, WR, OL.

Weaknesses: LB, DB.

What’s New: Tight ends have thrived in many of Turner’s offenses in past; slimmed-down Kyle Rudolph poised for breakout season with more downfield routes. Adrian Peterson will still be focal point, but Vikings hope to turn some of his carries into catches for strategic variation and health preservation. First-round pick Barr will be moved around in passing situations to maximize rushing ability.

Expectations: Zimmer stepped into ideal environment for first-time head coach, with Turner to lean on, plenty of offensive talent and expertise on defense where team needs it most. Munnerlyn is major upgrade, but coming off last-place finish, secondary still has enough questions to hamper Vikings in quest to catch rest of division. Quarterback matters most, of course. Matt Cassel must extrapolate handful of strong performances last year over whole season; Bridgewater waits if Cassel struggles.


AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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