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Vikings mailbag: Kalil, Patterson, McKinnon, Bridgewater's growth

MINNEAPOLIS -- Thanks to all of you who submitted questions for this week's Minnesota Vikings mailbag. You can submit them at any point during the week on Twitter, using the hashtag #VikingsMail.

@GoesslingESPN: Good morning, everyone. Hope you're enjoying your Saturday so far. We'll get started here. I agree with your premise that it's too early to give up on Matt Kalil, and I think the Vikings do, too. There are plenty of other places they could go with a first-round pick (currently projected to be ninth overall), and to take another left tackle in the top 10 would effectively amount to general manager Rick Spielman using first-round picks in back-to-back years to replace players he took with the 12th and 4th overall picks in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Kalil earned a Pro Bowl trip as a rookie, and while the Vikings do have to make a decision on his fifth-year option for 2016, the option is guaranteed for injury only, so the Vikings can effectively buy themselves another year before they have to figure out what to do with him. Many have mentioned moving him to guard, but I'm not sure that would work; I don't think he's powerful or nasty enough to play inside. The hunch here is the Vikings will give it another year to see if a healthy Kalil can rebound -- though it wouldn't surprise me at all to see them pursue a veteran backup who could start if Kalil struggles in 2015.

@GoesslingESPN: If I had to characterize the issue with Cordarrelle Patterson in one phrase, it would be this: Attention to detail. Coaches want Patterson to be more consistent in his route-running -- his releases and cuts need to be reliable enough that Teddy Bridgewater knows where to find him every time -- and that requires a special focus on the little things in practice. Patterson is still relatively new to the position, and route-running was one of the concerns about him coming out of college. Mike Zimmer said this week that Patterson had a good week of practice, and added on Friday that the receiver's alignments and route-running have been especially precise. It will take that kind of approach for him to prove himself to coaches, I believe, especially with Charles Johnson playing well.

@GoesslingESPN: I think the Vikings believe Jerick McKinnon can be their primary running back in the future, but we've got to stop defining that in the way it's been used with Adrian Peterson. Most teams have two, if not three, running backs who get carries at this point, and for many teams, the days of running backs logging 300-plus carries a season are gone. I don't see McKinnon being a guy who ever gets more than 16-18 carries a game, consistently, but that's probably OK; if he can do that, catch a few passes and get a breather from another running back, that's fine. The upcoming draft is expected to be deep at the running back position, and it wouldn't be hard to see the Vikings using a mid-round pick on another one for their stable. I continue to believe Peterson will probably be somewhere else next season, and as easy as it is to add talent at the position right now, it makes sense for the Vikings to acquire another young runner.


@GoesslingESPN: It's too early to answer that question definitively, I think. As we discussed the other day, I'd like to see Bridgewater have a game where has to carry the Vikings to victory at some point. That might not happen this season, and it doesn't necessarily have to, but to me, games like that are an important trait for a franchise quarterback. There's been some definite progress with Bridgewater in recent weeks; he's getting through his progressions faster, his completion percentage is going up, his pocket presence is improving and he's made some assertive throws, particularly last week. Mike Zimmer said on Friday that Bridgewater typically only misses two throws in a practice, and you'd like to see him a little more accurate in games, especially on the throws where he should be able to hit receivers in stride without much trouble. But Bridgewater has probably been the best QB of the 2014 rookie class so far, and there are signs he continues to improve. Everybody wants to see a finished product now -- and the Vikings are no different -- but Bridgewater did only turn 22 a couple weeks ago. He's still a work in progress in many areas.

We'll wrap it up here for the week. Thanks for the great questions, everyone. Enjoy your Saturday, and we'll talk to you from TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.