With training camp only 20 days away, many are wondering the areas we need to question and evaluate as the Vikings practice for several weeks in Mankato. In this series we will ask one question about each position group and writer Daniel House will answer with his thoughts. When training camp is over, he will answer the same set of questions to add any analysis he has developed during his time in Mankato. Today he will profile the offense and answer many "burning" questions.
Quarterbacks: Is Christian Ponder ready to respond this season, or will Matt Cassel be starting by the middle of the season?
Right now this question is very tough to answer and will provide more evaluation at training camp. With the developments at OTA's and mini-camps and the progress that was brought forth in a very light setting, things are definitely encouraging for Ponder. Will the Vikings file a divorce with Ponder if he isn't living up to expectations? This question is very far-fledged and will require Ponder to play in at least four weeks of regular season competition to make any type of judgment.
Running Backs: Can Adrian Peterson break Eric Dickerson's rushing record of 2,105 yards?
The real question is: "Orange Peanut for me?" Last season we witnessed Adrian Peterson rush for a remarkable 2,097 yards, less than a year removed from major knee surgery repairing. I don't think there can be any doubt that Peterson won't break this record. Every goal Peterson has set, he has accomplished in some fashion. There is no question that Peterson has the talents, it's whether the offensive scheme is more balanced this year, which is a likely occurrence. I predict he comes close, but pulls through in some fashion because he is Adrian Peterson.
Fullbacks: Can Rhett Ellison handle a potential snap total of 650 or more?
I do see Rhett Ellison's production rising in some fashion, but after nearly half the amount of carries an everyday fullback would expect, we will see if he can handle the workload. He's an athlete, so there shouldn't be an excuse, but after recording nearly half of the snaps of what he will this season, it could be a concern.
Wide Receivers: Will Greg Jennings become a vertical threat for Christian Ponder? Can Cordarrelle Patterson be developed and improve his route running?
Greg Jennings was a great addition to the Vikings locker room and will be a great mentor to the young cast of wide receivers. With experience playing in the league and being in the presence of quarterbacks Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, he understands how to be a wide receiver. If he can stay healthy and be on the field, he will be a huge addition to the Vikings offense.
Patterson is going to be one of the Vikings biggest projects during training camp. A multi-talented athlete from the University of Tennessee, Patterson has all the tools to be a perennial threat in the league. He needs work on route running and has very "raw" talent. If wide receivers George Stewart can develop Patterson into a fierce route runner, the Vikings could have some of the best wide receivers in the league.
Offensive Line: Can the offensive line remain consistent this season after no changes from a personnel standpoint?
There is no doubt that the offensive line was one of the bright spots of Adrian Peterson's success. With established continuity and no personnel changes or departures, I expect to see the same level of excellence among the offensive line. John Sullivan is the leader of the group and has been a good influence on players such as Matt Kalil and Brandon Fusco. Both players were young and the transition to starting NFL material was rather flawless. This position group arguably is one of the best in the NFL and are one of the major reasons why Adrian Peterson is so successful.
Tight Ends: Can John Carlson return to normal form this season?
After having a less than impressive first year with the Vikings, John Carlson will need to prove he can improve this season. Just 8 receptions and 43 yards won't be acceptable, especially when he is cashing the check from his contract every week. He has seen success in his seasons in Seattle, but has been plagued with injuries. He will be one player I will be watching closely and profiling during my time in Mankato at Vikings training camp.
Stay tuned for Daniel House's answers for the defense coming up this weekend.
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