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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings’ 2015 Grades: Peterson, Berger and Ellison lead the offense

By Andrew Krammer

This is the second in a three-part series reviewing the 2015 Minnesota Vikings. For a review of the defense, click here.

The Vikings were just one of four teams in the NFL to run more than pass, finishing with the fewest pass attempts (454) in the league. Adrian Peterson claimed his third career rushing title with 1,485 yards, though his individual statistics don’t reflect the turbulence of this 2015 offense.

A second season under OC Norv Turner played out more like a first year, feeling their way through the Peterson-Teddy Bridgewater pairing during the season since Peterson sat out his fourth consecutive preseason. Shotgun handoffs that were initially a function of the offense were mothballed in favor of an under-center approach. And a patchwork offensive line, which lost center John Sullivan and tackle Phil Loadholt before Week 1, struggled to hold up. Bridgewater was the league’s most-pressured quarterback at nearly a 47-percent rate, according to ProFootballFocus.com, and led all passers with 41 throwaways.

An emphasis on a vertical passing game rarely equated to success, and Bridgewater’s admitted hesitation to voice his opinion may have stalled change. He played substantially less out of the gun than he had during his 12 starts as a rookie, all without Peterson. Bridgewater’s only noteworthy improvement came on an interception rate that dropped from 3.0 percent to 2.0 percent.

Overall, the Vikings improved to 16th in scoring (22.8 ppg, up from 20.3 ppg), to 4th in rushing offense (138.2 ypg, up from 112.8 ypg) and to 4th in turnovers (17, down from 20).

Struggled in critical moments, falling to 25th in touchdowns per red-zone drive (.500), which is down from 15th (.538) a year ago, per Football Outsiders. Also took a minor step back on third downs (38%), down from 39% last season.

Grades are based on a 1-5 scale, with ‘5′ marking an excellent season, ‘4′ for above-average, ‘3′ for average, ‘2′ for below-average and ‘1′ for failure to perform. Players that did not accrue a season (weren’t on the active roster for at least six weeks) or played in three games or fewer are not graded. Below are individual grades, based on game and practice observations, weekly film reviews and interviews with coaches, for 33 offensive players who finished the season on the Vikings’ 53-man roster, injured reserve or practice squad. Unofficial NFL stats, such as QB hurries, drops and broken tackles, are compiled by ProFootballFocus.com.

Quarterbacks

• Teddy Bridgewater (2.5): One of four player-voted team captains. Tasked with orchestrating an evolving offense and navigating behind an often-unstable offensive line. Led an 11-win team in his first full campaign as a starter. Praised for intelligence and decision making in critical spots, completing his fourth career game-winning drive in the Week 8 win at Chicago. None of his nine interceptions came in the fourth quarter while within a score. Still seeking that same consistency throughout games. Played 1,069 snaps [97.4%]. Played through a left shoulder injury suffered in Oakland and re-aggravated against Green Bay in Week 11. Knocked out of the Week 9 win vs. St. Louis by an illegal hit from Lamarcus Joyner that drew a $23,152 fine, forcing him to miss the Vikings’ game-winning drive in overtime. Ranked as PFF’s most-accurate quarterback (79.3%) when negating drops and throwaways. Though that plays into criticism he received this season for being too cautious, and not driving the ball into tighter windows. Coaches aim to tweak his throwing motion this offseason to throw more over the top. His 12 batted passes ranked fifth in the NFL despite playing in the lowest-volume passing offense. Not very accurate beyond 20 yards this season, throwing three touchdowns to four interceptions in that range. Overthrew multiple deep attempts, including would-be touchdowns to Jerick McKinnon in Lambeau and Mike Wallace in Chicago. Flashed the arm on a back-shoulder, 34-yard dart to Wallace down the seam against Chicago in Week 15. Finished 292-of-447 [65.3%] for 3,231 yards, 14 touchdowns and nine picks. Posted a career-high three rushing touchdowns. One of his best games came against Denver, becoming just one of four quarterbacks to throw for more than 200 yards without an interception vs. the No. 1 defense. Sack-fumbled twice in final drives of losses in Week 4 to Denver and Week 14 to Arizona. Strives to be more vocal with coaches about the type of offense with which he prefers. Noted “we put together a game plan that we were all comfortable with” after he threw for a career-high 335 yards in the Vikings’ Week 14 loss in Arizona. The clear change was toward a quicker passing attack. That catalyzed his best three-game stretch of the season, accounting for seven touchdowns to no interceptions with an average 118.6 QB rating over Weeks 14-16. Flat in the NFC North-clinching win at Green Bay in Week 17, misfiring or not finding the open target. Improved his hardcount and led the NFL with 15 defensive offside penalties drawn.

• Shaun Hill (N/A): Signed a two-year, $6.5 million contract in March to replace Matt Cassel as backup quarterback. Appeared in three games. Played 28 snaps, including a season-high 21 in place of Bridgewater during the Week 9 win vs. St. Louis. Completed 2-of-6 passes for 15 yards and took a sack. Handed the ball off five times in the Vikings’ game-winning drive in overtime. Turned 36 this month entering the final year of his deal.

• Taylor Heinicke (N/A): Received $20,000 guaranteed as a priority undrafted free agent signing in the spring. Inactive for all 17 games. Spent offseason adjusting to taking snaps under center for the first time since high school. Spent four college seasons in Old Dominion’s ‘Air Raid’ spread offense, becoming just the 18th Division-I passer to throw for 10,000 career yards and run for another 1,000 yards.

Running backs

• Adrian Peterson (4.0): One of four player-voted team captains. Agreed to a contract restructure in July that guarantees him $7 million of his 2016 salary if he’s on the roster three days into the new league year beginning in March. Named one of just two unanimous first-team All-Pro selections, joining Houston’s J.J. Watt. Peterson returned from a season spent off the field and claimed his third career rushing title with 1,485 yards despite playing behind a patchwork offensive line. Became just the third back in history to lead the league in rushing after his 30th birthday. Showed he still has impeccable straight-line speed and lateral agility. Also led the league with 327 carries, as his 4.5 yards per carry ranked 12th among qualified backs. Tied three other players with a league-high 11 rushing touchdowns. Sat out his fourth consecutive preseason and jumped into an offense that didn’t necessarily cater to his strengths. Adjustments were immediately made after Week 1, when he took four of his 10 carries out of the shotgun, and then his strong 2015 campaign took off. All four of his longest touchdowns runs (35, 43, 48 and 80 yards) came after halftime, including two in the fourth quarters of wins against Oakland and Atlanta. Posted his sixth career 200-yard game in Week 10 vs. the Raiders, tying O.J. Simpson for most all-time. Accounted for 1,707-of-5,457 yards [31.3%] from scrimmage. Second in the league with 50 broken tackles while rushing. Played 712 snaps [64.8%]. Held back in the Week 15 win against Chicago because of a sprained ankle. Called out coaching for being underused in losses to Green Bay and Seattle, which stemmed from his absence in third-down and passing packages due to struggles as a protector and route runner. Ran by safety T.J. Ward without touching him before Ward’s strip-sack to end the Vikings’ comeback attempt in Denver. Did catch 30-of-36 targets for 222 yard receiving, including one drop and two fumbles. Had his worst fumbling season since 2009, tabbed with eight fumbles in 17 games. Tackled while flipping a reverse to Mike Wallace, causing a fumble in the Vikings’ loss in Arizona. Had the ball stripped by Kam Chancellor to set up Seattle’s go-ahead field goal in the Vikings’ wild-card playoff loss. Penalized once.

• Jerick McKinnon (3.5): Taking a back seat upon Peterson’s return, McKinnon played more of a No. 3 role at the beginning of the season — used sparingly between Peterson on first and second downs, and Matt Asiata as the third-down protector. Caught just seven passes in the first seven weeks before coaches started to feature him more in the passing game. Played 178 snaps [16.2%], with 110 of those plays coming after Week 10. Finished second on the team with 271 yards rushing with a team best 5.2-yard average. Shed a tackle to score his first career touchdown on a 17-yard catch and run in the Vikings’ Week 15 win vs. Chicago. Broke 18 tackles on 73 touches. Started flexing out to receiver as the coaching staff got more creative with his use. Caught 19 of his 24 passes in the second half of the season. Had a would-be deep grab blown up by Earl Thomas in the Vikings’ playoff loss to Seattle. Took a full series in the fourth quarter against Seattle after Peterson’s fumble. Looked like more of a natural fit for this offense, which even Peterson referred to when saying he wanted to become more versatile for Norv Turner.

• Zach Line (3.5): Received one All-Pro vote in his first full season as a starter. Filled the big shoes of Jerome Felton and saw noticeable gains as a lead blocker. Played 235 snaps [21.4%]. Took his first two carries for one-yard touchdowns against Detroit and San Diego. Led the way on many of Peterson’s big runs during his 200-yard outing against Oakland, including gains of 11, 15 and 17 yards. Turned a shallow catch into a 49-yard gain on a scoring drive during the Vikings’ comeback win in Detroit. Shed two tacklers on a 24-yard catch in Arizona to help set up the Vikings’ game-tying touchdown. Recovered an onside kick in Week 16 against the Giants. Flagged once.

• Matt Asiata (3.0): The Vikings’ primary third-down back, Asiata saw 209 snaps [19%] with nearly half of those coming in pass protection. An important asset behind an unstable offensive line. Allowed just four QB hurries. Biggest gain, a 22-yard catch on third-and-short, came against busted coverage in Arizona. Averaged 3.9 yards per carry. Ran for a season-high 28 yards after Peterson sprained his ankle against Chicago in Week 15. Broke eight tackles on 48 touches. Dropped two passes on 29 targets. Did not fumble. Flagged once. Pending free agent.

• Blake Renaud (N/A): Signed as an undrafted free agent in the spring. Received a $1,500 signing bonus. Converted from linebacker to fullback out of Boise State. Spent the entire season on the practice squad. Inked a reserve/future contract on Jan. 11.

• Dominique Williams (N/A): Had an impressive preseason with 200 combined yards and two touchdowns on 39 touches. Still couldn’t crack the logjam at running back and spent the entire season on the practice squad.

Receivers

• Stefon Diggs (3.5): Drafted in the fifth round (146th overall), Diggs was inactive for the first three weeks before Charles Johnson suffered a rib injury against San Diego. Debuted against the Broncos’ No. 1 pass defense and caught six balls for 87 yards. Fumbled twice, neither lost, in that Week 4 loss. Became the first rookie receiver in NFL history to post at least 85 yards in each of his first four games. Caught 52 of 84 targets [61.9%] for a team-high 720 receiving yards. Played 722 snaps [65.8%]. Impressed with smooth routes that helped him create separation. Forced 13 missed tackles. Made a leaping 36-yard touchdown grab to give the Vikings their first lead during the third quarter in Detroit. Shook a defender and scored the game-tying, 40-yard touchdown the following week in Chicago. Then he only twice topped 50 yards the rest of the season. His fast start drew more attention from defenses, including Arizona’s Patrick Peterson in Week 14, when he had two catches for 12 yards. Scored twice on three catches against Chicago in Week 15. Took four handoffs for 19 yards. Penalized four times. Showed why he was a highly sought-after recruit in high school before his uneven college career at Maryland.

• Jarius Wright (3.0): Signed a four-year, $14.8 million extension days before the season opener. Served as the Vikings’ primary slot receiver in three-receiver sets. Caught 34 balls on 49 targets [69.4%] for 442 yards. A go-to target for Bridgewater on underneath crossing routes. Played 474 snaps [43.2%]. Moved the chains 25 times on his 34 receptions. Effective after the catch. Turned a receiver screen into a 52-yard gain vs. Kansas City, the Vikings’ longest pass completion of the season. However, he produced a career-low 13 yards per catch in a sputtering passing offense. Dropped three passes. Lost a fumble at the Cardinals’ 15 during the loss in Arizona. Took a reverse for 29 yards in Week 2 against Detroit.

• Adam Thielen (3.0): Broke through a crowded receiver group at training camp to make the team for the second straight season. Played 222 snaps [20.2%], mostly as a blocking specialist in run-heavy packages. Took three touches for 83 yards, including a 41-yard run on a fake punt, in the Vikings’ division-clinching win at Lambeau Field. Left the game with a shoulder injury that will require offseason surgery. Forced one missed tackle and had one drop. Caught 12 of 18 targets for 144 yards. Had eight tackles and four missed tackles on special teams. Penalized once. Exclusive rights free agent.

• Mike Wallace (2.0): Traded from the Dolphins to the Vikings in March, in the third year of a five-year, $60 million contract. Had one of the quietest seasons of his career. Tied a career low in both catches (39) and targets (72), and set career lows in yards (473) and touchdowns (2). Started off decent as the primary target, with 20 catches for 233 yards in the first four games. But he didn’t top 50 yards the rest of the season as he and Bridgewater struggled to keep a connection. Played 804 snaps [73.2%]. Had his best game of the season against Denver in Week 4, catching 8 balls for 83 yards, both season highs. Dropped a team-high five passes. Praised the offense’s ‘vertical’ approach in the summer, but wasn’t able to produce down the field. Set his season high on a 34-yard, back-shoulder catch in Week 15 against Chicago. Came open downfield in Soldier Field, but lost an overthrown ball in the sun. Broke three tackles. Did not fumble. Flagged four times. Came to Minnesota with a bad reputation in Miami, and was praised by Mike Zimmer for not complaining about his results. Though his low production and rising cap hit ($11.5 million next season) makes his future uncertain in Minnesota.

• Charles Johnson (1.5): Carried over from last season as the Vikings’ primary split end, losing his job due to Diggs’ emergence once a rib injury forced him to miss two games in Weeks 4 and 6. Quickly fell out of the lineup despite his return in Week 7. Set up the game-winning field goal in Chicago off a leaping 35-yard grab in Week 8. His playing time spiked to 28 snaps the following week against St. Louis, catching one pass for 25 yards. Gives the Vikings a much-needed tall target downfield, but he did not catch a pass after Week 9 as he fell out of favor. Played 218 snaps [20%] overall. Finished with nine grabs on 13 targets for 127 yards. Flagged once. A healthy inactive for the final four games, including the wild-card loss to Seattle.

• Cordarrelle Patterson (1.5): Made the roster as a kick returner in his third NFL season. Seldom used on offense, seeing a season-high 17 snaps in Week 4 at Denver. Caught one pass for nine yards in that game. Played 61 snaps [5.6%] overall. Still dangerous with the ball. Led the NFL with a 31.8-yard average on kickoff returns, including two returns for touchdowns. Had four touches on offense (two catches, two handoffs) for 25 yards. Flagged once for headbutting Packers kicker Mason Crosby in the Vikings’ Week 11 loss. Six weeks later, Crosby forced the fumble on Patterson’s 71-yard kick return to give life to the Packers in the Vikings’ 20-13 win. Wasn’t even used much as a gadget player. Did not appear on offense in the final six games, including the wild-card playoff loss to Seattle. Last start at receiver came on Nov. 2, 2014.

• Isaac Fruechte (N/A): Signed as an undrafted free agent without a signing bonus. Spent the entire season on the practice squad. Caught 50 passes for 702 yards during four years at the University of Minnesota. Inked a reserve/future contract on Jan. 11.

Tight ends

• Rhett Ellison (3.5): The ‘dirty work’ player for the Vikings, Ellison’s value increased when the Vikings lost John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt in the preseason. Ellison served as a consistent helper for rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings, even taking over to block defensive ends as the Vikings schemed double teams for Clemmings and guard Mike Harris. Flexible. Lined up at fullback, tight end and receiver. Managed to block three defenders on McKinnon’s 24-yard touchdown against the Giants, negated by a Kalil false start. Played 479 snaps [44%] overall. Tore a patellar tendon in the Vikings’ season finale win at Lambeau Field, requiring season-ending surgery and forcing him to miss the playoff loss to Seattle. Caught 11 of 18 targets for 124 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown to put the Vikings on the board in Oakland. Gained 41 yards on a screen pass in Arizona. Dropped one pass. Allowed just three QB hurries and in 98 pass-blocking snaps. Flagged once for a false start. Pending free agent.

• Kyle Rudolph (3.0): Achieved his goal of staying healthy and playing the entire year, finishing with 17 starts. His role on the field wasn’t as straightforward. Played 907 snaps [82.6%]. With a banged-up offensive line losing two starters during the preseason, the Vikings called upon their tight ends to take up bigger roles in pass protection and run blocking. That’s not Rudolph’s specialty and it showed as one of the many struggling blockers up front, especially when outmatched against bigger defensive ends. Set a career high with 495 yards, second-most on the team. Caught 49 balls on 71 targets [69%]. Dropped two passes, including a wide-open touchdown in Oakland. Forced five missed tackles. Saw slivers of his potential as a receiver in this offense. Led the team with five receiving touchdowns. Made a 47-yard catch and run for a touchdown, giving the Vikings a 7-3 lead over Green Bay in Week 11. Stemmed the safety and cut inside toward the post on a 28-yard touchdown grab against the Giants in Week 16. Targeted on a similar play in Atlanta, but the ball was late and intercepted. Was not flagged. Did not fumble.

• MyCole Pruitt (2.0): Drafted in the fifth round (143rd overall) by the Vikings. Made the team as the third tight end over incumbent Chase Ford. Had growing pains as a run blocker, used increasingly during the season as the Vikings featured heavier personnel sets with three tight ends. Successfully blocked out Raiders safety Nate Allen to help spring Peterson for his 80-yard touchdown during the Week 10 win in Oakland. Played 242 snaps [22%]. Dropped three passes. Caught 10 of 16 targets for 89 yards, including a season-long, 32-yard grab in Arizona. Stepped up for Ellison and played well during a career-high 35 snaps in the playoffs against the Seahawks.

• Dominique Jones (N/A): Signed to the practice squad on Nov. 17 when the Baltimore Ravens plucked Chase Ford to their active roster. Jones, undrafted in 2011 out of Shepherd, spent this season with four teams between the Broncos, Ravens, Giants and Vikings.

Linemen

• Joe Berger (4.0): Re-signed to a two-year, $2.155 million deal in March. Played all 1,098 snaps, a career high at age 33, as an injury replacement for center John Sullivan. Has now made 26 consecutive starts for the Vikings, including the nine at guard in 2014. Had a really strong season as the anchor in the middle of an unstable offensive line. Received three All-Pro votes. Early communication issues didn’t reflect well on Berger, Bridgewater or the coaching staff as free runners got sacks in losses to San Francisco and Denver. They cleaned that up and Berger was pegged for just 10 QB hurries in the final 13 weeks. Allowed one sack all season, on 3rd-and-goal in Detroit. Caraun Reid split Berger and Brandon Fusco to get one of the Lions’ four sacks on Bridgewater in the Vikings’ Week 7 win. Strong run blocker for an offense committed to interior runs. Turned Sylvester Williams, creating one-half of the massive hole for Peterson on his 48-yard touchdown in Denver. Made a similar play on St. Louis’ Michael Brockers for Peterson’s 11-yard run in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal. Flagged three times, twice for holding. A critical player for the Vikings over the last 1.5 seasons. Turns 34 in May. Entering the final year of his deal in 2016.

• Mike Harris (3.0): Won the audition for right guard after Fusco was moved to left guard during the offseason. A converted tackle, Harris hadn’t ever played guard until injuries forced the Vikings to move him inside during a 2014 loss in Buffalo. Made the transition throughout training camp and gave the Vikings some size inside. Played every snap for a career-high 1,098 plays in his first full season as a starter. The Vikings’ biggest healthy offensive lineman at 325 pounds, Harris was initially limited in his assignments. Gained enough confidence to begin pulling more in the middle of the year. Pulled around a three-TE formation and buried Rams safety Maruice Alexander to spring Peterson for a six-yard touchdown run in the Vikings’ Week 9 win vs. St. Louis. Coaches lauded his consistent effort. Drew an unnecessary roughness penalty on Clay Matthews when Harris got under his skin, leading Matthews to toss him on the ground in the Vikings’ Week 17 win at Lambeau. Penalized four times, including twice for holding. Inconsistent and susceptible to quicker defensive tackles and stunts in pass protection. Allowed 25 QB hurries and three sacks. Had a rough outing in Week 11 against Green Bay, getting driven back on the opening snap by B.J. Raji for a tackle for a loss. Allowed consecutive sacks, one to Mike Daniels and another to Datone Jones, in the third quarter of that loss to the Packers. Overall, handled himself well in his first extended duty at a new position. Pending free agent.

• Matt Kalil (2.5): Played 1,090 snaps [99.3%], missing the first snaps of his four-year NFL career when he was rolled up on and a lower leg injury forced him out of the Vikings’ Week 16 win vs. the Giants. Said he felt healthy for the first time since he was a rookie following arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees in January 2014. Put in extra work during training camp and had a solid start to the season, allowing just three QB hurries in the first three weeks.Then he faced the Broncos’ tandem of DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller in Week 4, and tied a season-worst four QB hurries in that loss. Had one of his better outings in Week 6 against Kansas City’s Tamba Hali. Pulled and kicked out Falcons safety William Moore in Peterson’s 35-yard touchdown run in Atlanta. Still not good enough in his fourth season as the franchise left tackle. Surrendered the game-losing sack to Dwight Freeney in Arizona. Allowed six sacks and 33 QB hurries overall, third-worst along a porous line. Flagged an offensive line-worst 10 times, including five for holding and four false starts — one that negated a 24-yard touchdown in the Vikings’ Week 16 win against the Giants. Has a fifth-year option worth more than $11 million for 2016, injury-guaranteed only. That makes for a potentially tough decision if the Vikings aren’t sold one way or another on Kalil.

• Brandon Fusco (2.0): Flipped sides to left guard in order to shore up Bridgewater’s blind side and help Kalil level out. The transition wasn’t smooth, as Fusco admittedly struggled to adapt to the footwork, equating it to writing with your opposite hand. The growing pains showed in pass protection, where he had the worst campaign in his four seasons as a starter. Tied Clemmings with a team-worst 42 QB hurries allowed. Also admitted to losing some strength after much of his last offseason was spent rehabbing from a torn pectoral muscle in 2014. Played 1,097 snaps [99.9%], missing one play against St. Louis. Suffered a concussion in Week 2 against Detroit and returned the following week. Had one of his worst outings in Week 14 against Arizona, surrendering three QB hits to Calais Campbell. Leveled off after that, giving up just one sack in the final four games. Sometimes used to pull on pass plays to take Clemming’s guy, including Jason Pierre-Paul in Week 16. He’ll be entering the second season of a five-year, $24.25 million extension in 2016. Has proven to be an above-average guard before and likely isn’t going anywhere.

• Austin Shepherd (2.0): Drafted in the seventh round (228th overall). Active for 14 games, appearing in 10 games as the extra lineman in goal-line packages. The swing tackle, filling in for six snaps at right tackle in Week 8 at Chicago when Clemmings left with a stinger. Allowed one QB hurry. Played 34 snaps [3.1%] overall.

• T.J. Clemmings (1.5): Drafted in the fourth round (110th overall) by the Vikings. Coaches initially tried his hand at right guard during June practices before shifting him back to tackle. Thrust into the starting role after season-ending injuries to starter Phil Loadholt and swing candidate Carter Bykowski in the preseason. Outmatched throughout the season. Not physical in run support. Tied Fusco with a team-worst 42 QB hurries allowed in pass protection. Surrendered a team-worst eight sacks, including two apiece in Denver and Oakland. Combined with Peterson to allow the game-losing strip and sack in the Week 4 loss against the Broncos. Had one of his better outings in Week 8 against Chicago’s Pernell McPhee. Sometimes saw the opponent’s best pass rusher, including Week 2 when Detroit moved Ziggy Ansah to rush off right tackle. Struggled in both matchups against Seattle, surrendering multiple tackles for losses in the wild-card playoff loss. Coaches schemed to help Clemmings throughout the season, assigning him double teams and often using a tight end on his side for aid. Flagged twice for false starts. Will be part of the competition for 2016, but didn’t earn himself a starting role with his uneven play and Loadholt still under contract.

• Zac Kerin (N/A): Made the active roster after spending the 2014 season on the practice squad as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo. Active for four games, appearing for one snap at guard for Fusco during the Week 9 win against St. Louis.

• Jeremiah Sirles (N/A): Traded from the Chargers to Vikings at the end of the preseason in exchange for a sixth-round pick. Inactive for all 17 games.

• John Sullivan (N/A): Signed to a one-year extension through 2017 and a pay raise in April, just months before he suffered what initially was thought of as a sore back. The Vikings and Sullivan initially attempted to rehab a herniated disc during much of the preseason until settling for surgery just days before the Sept. 14 season opener. A clean surgery gave hope for a return in 2015, but an October setback in the weight room ended his season with a second back procedure in as many months. Turns 31 in August. Under contract for the next two seasons.

• Phil Loadholt (N/A): Suffered another tough break with a second season-ending injury in as many seasons. This one, nine months after tearing a pectoral muscle, came on a torn Achilles tendon just a couple plays into the Vikings’ exhibition against Tampa Bay. Missed his first full season since the Vikings drafted him in the second round in 2009. Has missed 21 games over the last two seasons. Turns 30 this month. Entering the final year of his contract in 2016 with a non-guaranteed $5.4 million base salary.

• Carter Bykowski (N/A): Showed promise in training camp as a possible swing tackle option before a torn pectoral muscle ended his season. Initially signed off the 49ers’ practice squad in December 2014. An exclusive rights free agent.

• Nick Easton (N/A): Traded from the 49ers to the Vikings during the Week 5 bye in exchange for linebacker Gerald Hodges. Inactive for all 13 games. An undrafted product out of Harvard.

• Isame Faciane (N/A): Made the transition from defensive line to guard in the offseason. Remained on the practice squad for a consecutive season. Went undrafted in 2014 out of Florida International.

The post Vikings’ 2015 Grades: Peterson, Berger and Ellison lead the offense appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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