COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Vikings kick off the 2013 season in about a week, and it's time to continue some player predictions
Over the next few days, I will be throwing out some secondary, special teams, and various other 2013 predictions.
Here are my defensive line and linebacker player predictions:
RE - Jared Allen
2012 stats: 45 tackles, 12 sacks, 1 forced fumble
2013 prediction: 51 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Notes: Jared Allen played most of the 2012 season suffering from a banged-up shoulder, an injury he had surgery on this offseason. Now healthy again, expect Allen, in a contract year, to have another impressive sack-laden season.
DT - Kevin Williams
2012 stats: 30 tackles, 2 sacks, 0 forced fumbles
2013 prediction: 23 tackles, 2 sacks, 0 forced fumble
Notes: It's hard to think Kevin Williams, 33, will have a down year in the midst of a contract season, but the Vikings will desire rookie Sharrif Floyd to see the field as often as possible. Given his age and potential downgrade in playing time, Kevin could be in for a statistical drop.
DT - Sharrif Floyd
2012 stats: N/A
2013 stats: 18 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumbles
Notes: Rookie Sharrif Floyd will spend most of his time on the bench sitting behind veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams. It will be interesting to see just how often the Vikings can get Floyd on the field and how often he will be playing next to Kevin Williams.
LE - Brian Robison
2012 stats: 37 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
2013 prediction: 39 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Notes: Now 30 years old, Brian Robison has probably hit his ceiling in terms of potential. He could also lose a slight amount of time to talented lineman Everson Griffen. Expect Robison to put up a similar stat line to his 2012 campaign.
DL - Everson Griffen
2012 stats: 26 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
2013 prediction: 31 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Notes: This could be the season Everson Griffen, entering a contract year, gets double-digit sacks. The talented defensive end, defensive tackle, and part-time linebacker can get on the field in a multitude of ways. His pure power, speed and potential make him a candidate for an improved year.
OLB - Chad Greenway
2012 stats: 148 tackles, 1 interception, 0 forced fumbles, 4 pass deflections
2012 prediction: 134 tackles, 0 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 5 pass deflections
Notes: Chad Greenway, the Vikings' leading tackler in 2012, will have another great season. A slight decrease in tackles comes with the addition of former Green Bay Packers tackling-machine Desmond Bishop.
LB - Desmond Bishop
2012 stats: N/A
2013 prediction: 104 tackles, 0 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 pass deflections
Notes: Health will be the biggest question for linebacker Desmond Bishop as he missed the 2012 season with a torn hamstring. Now fully recovered, Bishop has already shown his tackling ability in the preseason. Don't be surprised to see Bishop go over 100 tackles this season.
MLB - Erin Henderson
2012 stats: 80 tackles, 0 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 3 pass deflections
2013 prediction: 92 tackles, 0 interceptions, 2 forced fumble, 4 pass deflections
Notes: Making the move to "Mike" linebacker, Erin Henderson will have to take command of the defense. Expect a slight stat increase across the board, as Henderson will need to take charge as the heart of the Vikings' defense.
Dennis Parsons is a Minnesota-area sportswriter covering the Minnesota Vikings for Vikings Central. He previously covered all Minnesota professional sports teams for Minnesota Sports News Nightly. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @Parsons_VC.
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