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High hopes for Vikings this year

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MINNEAPOLIS—Teddy Bridgewater leading the huddle, taking the snaps, and surveying the field.

Adrian Peterson powering his way through the line.

The Minnesota Vikings finally can send the fulcrum of their offence onto the field at the same time.

The combination came together one year late, but there’s plenty of time remaining for the franchise running back in the evening phase of his career to do some damage to opposing defences with the still-dawning quarterback.

“Teddy, I feel like he’s the key,” Peterson said.

“There’s not too many guys that come into the league that have that talent, especially at the quarterback position,” he noted.

“He’s just so poised,” Peterson added. “He has a great arm. He’s mature.

“And he’s a competitor.”

When the Vikings drafted Bridgewater at the end of the first round last year, the environment appeared ideal for a rookie quarterback.

Get in on the ground floor with offensive co-ordinator Norv Turner’s system. Ease in as the back-up.

Once ready to run the team, take advantage of Peterson’s presence to find receivers in one-on-one coverage.

Last year was a prime example of those best-laid NFL plans going to waste. Peterson was shelved before the second game when the child abuse case arose against him.

Matt Cassel was hurt a week later—pushing Bridgewater into the starter’s role before he was ready.

There were many Sundays like the eight-sack, three-interception day against Detroit. Bridgewater didn’t throw his first touchdown pass until his fourth start.

His five best completion percentages came over the final five games, though. While the Vikings won four of their last five home games, Bridgewater was intercepted a total of three times.

Clearly, he was improving—an ascent that ought to accelerate with Peterson back in the fold.

“I don’t know if it’s ‘excitement level,’” said coach Mike Zimmer.

“But I think we’ve improved the football team that way.”

This will be the last of two seasons playing in the fresh air at the University of Minnesota, with the team’s colossal new covered stadium set to open in 2016.

Cold or snow could come into play, too, as the Vikings have three home games in December.

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