MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Defense has largely fueled Minnesota’s success since Mike Zimmer was hired as head coach.

This balanced, disciplined and intelligent unit has annually ranked among the NFL’s best, but this virus-altered season will serve as a stiff test. The Vikings must replace five starters from last year.

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Their younger candidates for filling turned-over positions also lost valuable on-field development time to the global pandemic.

With quarterback Kirk Cousins entering his third season, the offense ought to have more stability than the defense for the first time in Zimmer's seven years.

The Vikings open at home against Green Bay on Sept. 13.