Forte can be a workhorse. "He gives us a big back; a three-down back," GM Jerry Angelo said. "He's got enough speed to get to the outside, and he has the ability to make people miss at the second level. Those two areas where we could really never find any consistency, which made us an easy team to defend." Jones was a quality back in Detroit, but he wasn't healthy often the last three seasons. Peterson is an adequate backup and solid receiver in third-down situations. Wolfe may be too tiny to factor as a runner in all but special situations, but he can be a dangerous receiver out of the backfield.
Bell enters camp as the presumptive starter, even though he was benched most of last season, because he has success in a zone scheme in Denver. This should be an intriguing battle, though. Smith and Calhoun ran in zone schemes in college. Smith is a rookie; Calhoun is essentially a rookie, too, having missed much of the past two seasons because of a knee injury. Pinner and Cason fit the scheme as well. It will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Jim Colletto uses his fullback. Remember, running backs coach Sam Gash was a fullback.
The Vikings have what appears to be the best running back tandem in the NFL with Peterson, on the verge of superstardom, ready to move into the full-time starting role. Taylor stands to see a fair amount of playing time and rates above backup status. Last season, Peterson and Taylor ranked as the best rushing tandem in team history with 2,185 yards on the ground. Taylor saw the majority of the time in passing situations because Peterson's protection skills were considered suspect, but the latter is expected to be much improved in that area. The Vikings could have the threat of using Peterson and Taylor at the same time — something that rarely happened last season — with one back splitting out as a receiver.
Considering the wear and tear running backs deal with and that Taylor and Peterson both missed two games because of injury in 2007, having two top-notch players at this spot seems like an ideal situation for Minnesota. Tapeh, signed as a free agent, will replace veteran Tony Richardson at fullback and has the advantage of having played in Philadelphia, where Childress served as offensive coordinator. Hicks also signed as a free agent and will see the majority of his time on kick returns. Dugan and Tahi contribute on special teams.