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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Questions on the mind as Vikings begin offseason program Monday

By Andrew Krammer

MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings and 24 other NFL teams begin their official offseason programs on Monday.

Though voluntary, attendance is encouraged as most Vikings players will return to the Winter Park training facilities after three months away. Exceptions are made for the ilk of running back Adrian Peterson, who typically doesn’t attend this early in the offseason as the rules still limit players to strength, conditioning and physical rehab work. During the next two weeks, only strength and conditioning coaches are allowed on the field with players.

“First week is great because you come back and get to be around all the guys again,” linebacker Chad Greenway said Sunday night. “You get to be around your coach and kind of get back to the basics of football. And kind of get your mind out of the offseason gutter and back to what you do for a living. It’s always fun to get back and start working out, and having guys to work out with. And you kind of start forging that bond you know heading toward training camp.”

Even sans star, there remain a handful of questions that may have flown under the radar as the Vikings followed an 11-win season and devastating playoff loss with some free agency headlines.

Improved strength and conditioning programs? — The Vikings let go former strength coach Evan Marcus because of “too many injuries” in the weight room, Zimmer said this offseason. They’ll stick with the free weight system, per Zimmer’s wish, while looking to curb the blowback after running back Jerick McKinnon, defensive end Brian Robison and center John Sullivan, among others, were injured while exercising in the weight room under Marcus. The Vikings also had a run of pectoral injuries, on and off the field, and had previously researched changes to their programs as a response. In February, the Vikings hired Brent Salazar, who spent nine seasons as an assistant in Kansas City. Salazar has already met some players seeking offseason treatment at team facilities, though this week is the first time he’s allowed to work with players in the weight room.

Recoveries on track? — A handful of veterans are in the middle of long recoveries as Sullivan, tackle Phil Loadholt and tight end Rhett Ellison each face uphill climbs. The Vikings are forced to wait and see with all three, reflected in contract negotiations as Loadholt agreed to a restructure with no guarantees and Ellison just $100,000 guaranteed. While they’ve been allowed to get treatment since the end of the season, they can now begin workouts under supervision of Salazar and his staff. Sullivan, 30, is looking to return from two back surgeries last fall, including the second caused by an October setback in the weight room. Loadholt, 30, is eight months removed from a torn left Achilles tendon, and should get on the field this spring. The 27-year-old Ellison tore a patellar tendon in January and isn’t expected back until training camp. Other Vikings returning from long-term 2015 injuries and/or surgery include nose tackle Linval Joseph (toe), receiver Adam Thielen (shoulder), defensive end Everson Griffen (shoulder), linebacker Audie Cole (ankle) and nose tackle Shamar Stephen (toe).

New guys fitting in? — It’s the first day of school. Rick Spielman positioned the Vikings to have one of the highest retention rates in the NFL, though they will be forced to meet new people. Guard Alex Boone, tackle Andre Smith, linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and safety Michael Griffin were among the Vikings’ free agency additions this offseason. Zimmer or a Vikings assistant has direct experience with each player, though this week marks the first time they’ll get to meet the bulk of their new teammates. “As one of the veteran leaders, that’s part of my job,” Greenway said. “To make sure guys are going to come in, fit in and toe the line as far as the mentality we have in the locker room.”

The post Questions on the mind as Vikings begin offseason program Monday appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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