5 players who must improve in 2018

Minnesota Vikings


Amid heightened expectations after going to the NFC title game, these five Minnesota Vikings must improve this year.

After winning 13 games and making it to the NFC Championship Game last year, the Minnesota Vikings let quarterback Case Keenum depart and replaced him with Kirk Cousins in free agency this offseason.

So expectations will be very high for the Vikings this year, despite the virtual certainty the upgrade under center will not yield more regular season wins. One of the league’s best defenses remains, even with some depth concerns along the defensive line and at linebacker. The talent around Cousins is very good too, and it will be even better than it was for much of 2017 with running back Dalvin Cook’s return from a torn ACL.

As long as their most important players perform well, and stay healthy, the Vikings will be in the mix toward the top of the NFC this year. But for any big goals to be reached, these five players have to improve.

5. Kai Forbath

Forbath has been solid in a season and-a-half as the Vikings’ kicker, making 47 of 53 field goals (88.7 percent) over that span. But he also missed five extra points last year 87.2 percent accuracy, second-worst in the league), along with six missed field goals last year (three from 50-plus yards out).

Despite signing Forbath to a one-year deal in March, the Vikings moved up to draft Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson in the fifth-round of April’s draft. Forbath did not take kindly to an ask for immediate public comment, which had to be expected, but a theoretical kicking competition is coming and any semblance of Forbath’s job security has evaporated.

Even if Forbath wins the job during camp and the preseason, the Vikings could try (probably in vain) to sneak Carlson through waivers in order to place him on the practice squad. To have any chance to hold off a draft pick who’s the internal favorite to replace him, Forbath clearly has to step up his game.



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