- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (7-9)

OPEN CAMP: July 26, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota.

LAST YEAR: Lost five of first six games without RB Adrian Peterson before rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater made some strides down stretch of coach Mike Zimmer’s first season despite leaky OL and lack of dominant WRs. Zimmer’s defense ranked seventh in yards passing allowed, major improvement in area that’s lagged for decades. DE Everson Griffen shined in first full year as starter. Rookie LB Anthony Barr showed flashes of ability before season-ending knee injury.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: WR Mike Wallace; CBs Terence Newman and Trae Waynes; LB Eric Kendricks; QB Shaun Hill. Also, Peterson played in only one game last year before child abuse case involving his son emerged, keeping him tied up in Texas court and with NFL-NFLPA conflicts.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: FB Jerome Felton; WR Greg Jennings; LG Charlie Johnson; LB Jasper Brinkley; QB Matt Cassel.

CAMP NEEDS: Get Peterson going again after long layoff. Keep Bridgewater healthy. Create chemistry between him and Wallace. Figure out how to get more out of WR Cordarrelle Patterson, who slumped badly after promising rookie season. Solidify RG spot, with Brandon Fusco moving to LG to replace Johnson. Boost confidence of LT Matt Kalil after rough year. Get rookies Waynes and Kendricks up to speed on Zimmer’s defense. Establish starting SS to play next to budding star Harrison Smith.

EXPECTATIONS: Starting to get national acclaim as team on rise in NFC, Vikings should be on track for winning record. Whether that’s good enough to get playoff spot, let alone best Green Bay in NFC North, will depend on Bridgewater’s progress, offensive line’s improvement and Zimmer’s continued ability to fluster opposing offenses with his aggressive, deceptive scheme.

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


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