2001 NFL Football Preview

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Minnesota Vikings

All eyes -- and hopes -- will be on rookie RB Bennett

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Posted: Thursday July 19, 2001 10:37 AM

  • 2001 schedule
  • Head coach: Dennis Green (10th season, 95-59-0 career)
  • Stadium: Metrodome
  • Vikings all-time record: 350-277-9
  • 2000 rankings: Offense, 5th; Defense, 28th
  • 2000 team statistics
  • 2000 season results
  • Vikings alerts from CNNSI.com!
  • City Page: Minneapolis, Minn. 

    Minnesota opens its training camp at the University of Minnesota-Mankato in Mankato, Minn., on July 29.

    By B. Duane Cross, CNNSI.com

    Under a cloud concerning the future residence of the franchise (San Antonio Vikings … just doesn't have the same ring), head coach Dennis Green enters the 2001 season looking to replace running back Robert Smith, who retired after eight seasons. Top draft pick RB Michael Bennett is the choice.

    The Vikings can make the playoffs if … Bennett can replace Smith in the backfield. Then again, even with all the offensive firepower provided by quarterback Daunte Culpepper and wide receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss, the defense ranked No. 28 and was not significantly upgraded in the offseason.

    Pivotal games: Sandwiched around the bye week (Nov. 4), Minnesota plays host to Green Bay, travels to Tampa Bay and then road trips to Philadelphia before playing host to the New York Giants. Those four teams were a combined 41-23 last season, which is part of the reason the why Vikings have the league's toughest schedule.

    On the hot seat: In the words of Sports Illustrated's Peter King: "Moss jakes it on far too many plays. Just ask the Giants how pedestrian a player Moss was in the biggest game of his professional life, the NFC title game, last winter. Two catches, 18 yards, blah effort." … Not good for a guy wanting an $18-20 million signing bonus on top of $10M annually.

    Up-and-coming: Defensive end Talance Sawyer, who stepped in after Gabe Northern was injured, started 15 games last season and tallied 27 tackles and six sacks. Free safety Tyrone Carter found his way on to the field more than expected as a rookie and showed flashes of potential. He could push Orlando Thomas for the starter’s job.

    Sports Illustrated's season preview will post Aug. 29.

  • NFC Central Previews: Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings | Buccaneers

    Minnesota Offseason Movement
    Signings  Departures 
    Matt Birk, C  Bubby Brister, QB 
    Todd Bouman, QB  John Burrough, DE 
    Byron Chamberlain, TE  Matthew Hatchette, WR 
    John Davis, TE  Johnny McWilliams, TE 
    Nate Jacquet, WR  David Palmer, WR 
    Lance Johnstone, DE  John Randle, DT 
    Andrew Jordan, TE  Dwayne Rudd, LB 
    Corbin Lacina, G  Robert Smith, RB 
    Mitch Palmer, C  Todd Steussie, LT 
    Jake Reed, WR  Tony Williams, DT 
    Fernando Smith, DE    
    Chris Walsh, WR    
    Kailee Wong, LB    
    Vikings' 2001 Draft Choices
    Rd.  Overall  Player  Pos.  School 
    27  Michael Bennett  HB  Wisconsin 
    57  Willie Howard  DT  Stanford 
    69  Eric Kelly  CB  Kentucky 
    86  Brock Williams  CB  Notre Dame 
    130  Shawn Worthen  DT  TCU 
    131  Cedric James  WR  TCU 
    157  Patrick Chukwurah  OLB  Wyoming 
    189  Carey Scott  CB  Kentucky St. 
    225  Brian Crawford  OT  Western Oregon  

    Related information
    Dr. Z's NFL Power Rankings
    The NFL in '01: Ten faces in new places
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