The training camp battles series continues with the Minnesota Vikings. We've taken a look at the Jaguars, Raiders and Texans so far and now on to Minnesota.
We're going in order based off my way too early power rankings.
#31 Oakland Raiders
#30 Houston Texans
A year after making the playoffs, the Vikings had a disappointing 2013. They gave up the most points in the league and flip flopped three different quarterbacks throughout the year. Mike Zimmer replaces Leslie Frazier and will bring toughness to the defensive side of the ball they lacked last season. Minnesota drafted Anthony Barr at #9 and traded back into the first round to get Teddy Bridgewater. Although Matt Cassel is expected to start, Bridgewater should push for the starting gig in camp if he can impress. One thing that's certain on offense, they still have Adrian Peterson.
Key Battles at: QB, SS, DE, LG
Quarterback: Matt Cassel vs Teddy Bridgewater vs Christian Ponder
I'm only throwing Ponder on this list because he's a top 10 pick, and the Vikings may not be ready to give up on him yet. Ponder is on the cusp of being a big bust for them. Cassel has a leg up on Bridgewater due to reps and experience. If Bridgewater can grasp the offense quickly and impress in camp, he's got a chance. That won't be an easy task though in a Norv Turner system, which is quarterback friendly, but a very complex offense and a lot to learn. Cassel went 4-3 as a starter last year, which is pretty impressive considering the Vikings won just five games.
Strong Safety: Jamarca Sanford vs Mistral Raymond vs Antone Exum vs Kurt Coleman vs Robert Blanton
Pretty wide open competition here. Sanford was the starter last year, and although he's solid against the run, doesn't create many turnovers. Sanford has intercepted two passes in 70 career games. Blanton also played a lot last season, racking up 60 tackles, but hasn't picked off or deflected a pass in his career. Exum was drafted in the fifth round out of Virginia Tech and although played a lot of corner in college, can play safety too. Coleman comes over from Philadelphia and has the most inteceptions in his career (7) of any. One thing is for certain, the Vikings need to create more turnovers next year as the secondary picked off just six passes last season.
Defensive End: Everson Griffen vs Corey Wooton
The Jared Allen era has ended in Minnesota after he bolted for Chicago. Griffen declined from a solid 2012 season and had just 5.5 sacks in 2013. Wooton comes over from Chicago after having 10 sacks and three forced fumbles the last two years.
Left Guard: Charlie Johnson vs Joe Berger vs David Yankey
Johnson struggled mightily at the position last year that is sometimes masked by the horse in Adrian Peterson. Berger and Yankey are both highly intelligent and good run blockers.
Next up, the Washington Redskins.