DETROIT (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings already have as many wins as they did midway through last season. "I think this team is more talented," coach Mike Zimmer said.
DETROIT (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings already have as many wins as they did midway through last season.
"I think this team is more talented," coach Mike Zimmer said.
Of course, the return of Adrian Peterson has had a lot to do with that.
The emergence of Minnesota's rookies, though, is what seems to be making a difference.
Right tackle T.J. Clemmings, a fourth-round find, was the only rookie to start for Minnesota in the 20-3 opening loss at San Francisco. Second-round linebacker Eric Kendricks is starting now, too, and is flourishing. Cornerback Trae Waynes, the 11th overall pick, is playing extensively after he was brought along slowly. Third-round selection Danielle Hunter made his first start at defensive end last week at Kansas City. Fifth-round tight end MyCole Pruitt has played in all five games.
And after being inactive for the first three games, fifth-round wide receiver Stefon Diggs followed up his six-catch, 87-yards debut with seven receptions for 129 yards to help the Vikings get back to over .500 with a 16-10 win against the Chiefs.
"He's really become a favorite target of Teddy (Bridgewater)," Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. "So, we've got to be mindful of where he is."
Detroit's first-round pick, Laken Tomlinson, has overtaken veteran left guard Manny Ramirez in the starting lineup. Second-round running back Ameer Abdullah has had a 24-yard run, and 36-yard reception to show some potential, but his four fumbles equal the most by an NFL running back this year.
Here are some things to watch when the Vikings (3-2) play at Detroit (1-5) Sunday as both teams try to win a second straight game:
FIRED-UP QB: Matthew Stafford gave a fiery, pregame speech to his team before throwing for 405 yards and four touchdowns to help the Lions end their season-opening, five-game losing streak with a 37-34 overtime win over Chicago. After being benched in the previous game for the first time in his career, Stafford sounded determined before the game and played very well during it. Detroit safety Glover Quin said, "it meant a lot," to hear from Stafford before the first snap. "Guys rally behind the quarterback," Quin said. "And a lot of times in this league, you go as your quarterback goes."
ROAD WOES: The Zimmer-led Vikings are 0-2 on the road and were winless in three road games against NFC last year in his first season. Going back to Leslie Frazier's last season in 2013, Minnesota is 2-15-1 on the road. The Vikings have lost two straight in Detroit, where they haven't lost three in a row since the franchise's first three seasons from 1961-63. "I've only been here for eight road games and then the two this year," Zimmer said. "I understand all the stats. I hear all about them every week."
ALL CLASS: The Vikings-Lions game will feature two of the league's superstars, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson, both of whom were drafted in 2007. After all-time bust JaMarcus Russell was selected No. 1 overall by Oakland, the Lions took Johnson second and the Vikings selected five spots later. "Calvin Johnson is a guy that, when I came out, I was like, 'If this guy gets picked before me, I wouldn't understand because I felt like I was the best player,'" Peterson said. "But I do (understand now) because he's just that type of player, that caliber of a player, that you don't see often."
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: The Lions are hoping defensive tackle Haloti Ngata can return from a calf injury that has kept him out of the lineup for two weeks. Detroit needs all the help it can get to slow down Peterson, who had season highs with 29 carries and 134 yards rushing in last month's win over the Lions. "A guy that big with that kind of experience against a team that runs the ball a lot, there's no question he could help us," Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said.
EVERYDAY FANTASY: Stafford said the first question he gets from fans relates to fantasy football. Johnson said it's a "nonstop" topic when he meets and greets people in the public. "I've got you on my fantasy team, you've got to do this and that this week,'" Johnson recalled fans telling him. "I'm like, 'right.'"
Peterson's wife is thinking about trying to make some money in daily, fantasy football. "She's seen some of the numbers and she was like, 'Well, you know, I might as well try it out myself,'" he said. "So, we'll see how that goes for her."
Who would she select first? "She better draft me," Peterson said.
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