The Minnesota Vikings will report to training camp in just a few short days, with the first day of practice coming on Friday. With heightened expectations after a surprising 10-win campaign in 2012, veterans and young players alike will have to maintain or raise their level of play this season.
But who is the most irreplaceable player on the team? I think the choice is very easy, but let’s look at some other potential candidates.
Defensive end Jared Allen has established himself as one of the league’s top pass rushers, and he should be plenty motivated in a contract year. Allen is also an emotional driving force for the entire Vikings’ defense, but the team has a potential replacement for him on the roster in Everson Griffen.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph led the team with nine touchdown catches in 2012, but his role is likely to change some with the additions Minnesota made at wide receiver (Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson). Rudolph will remain a key cog in the Vikings’ offense this season, but he does not qualify as irreplaceable.
With question marks throughout the rest of their linebacking corp, the contributions of two-time Pro Bowler Chad Greenway will be key this season. It would be nice to see him make a few more impact plays in terms of forcing turnovers, but it’s hard to argue with Greenway’s steady veteran presence.
My choice for the most irreplaceable player for the Vikings in 2013 is running back Adrian Peterson. He made a remarkable recovery from the significant left knee injury he suffered late in the 2011 season, and was not only ready for Week 1 last season but fell just short of the single-season rushing record with 2,097 yards. Simply put, no one in the NFL is quite like Peterson.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.