Vikings @ Buffalo – Thursday, 8/10/17 – 6:00 PM CT
The Minnesota Vikings will play real football today.
Sam Bradford will trade in his red jersey, that stops anyone from getting near him without spontaneously combusting, for a purple and white one that has no such spells cast on it. We will likely only see He, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph, for one or two drives, before they throw the baseball hats on for the night. A good first drive would likely be it. While they are out there, here is what to watch for:
- Starting Offensive Line: Every snap will be scrutinized since we will only have a handful or two. Keep a close eye on the center spot. The rookie Pat Elflein probably won’t get the start, in favor of Nick Easton, but things can change depending on how this game goes. Riley Reiff is NOT making the trip to Buffalo as he recovers from his injury. However, Remmers will hold down the right side for the first time in purple.
- Dalvin Cook vs. Professionals: According to the Pioneer Press, Cook is the Vikings’ starting running back. That means we should see him get plenty of run in the first couple drives. Zimmer won’t want Bradford dropping back too many times behind an O-Line we know nothing about. We have all been drooling at his highlight tapes but are yet to see him against the best of the best. Today will be our first look.
- Will Bradford Go Deep? Really, this doesn’t matter. It is a preseason game that means nothing and he will only have a couple drives to do it. However, I am so sick of hearing the Bradford haters put him down because of the dink-and-dunk mentality of last year. We all know Bradford has one of the best deep balls in the game, but had no protection last year, and I would love to see him get some time tonight to use one.
The defense of the Vikings is pretty much in place, and will be for the foreseeable future thanks to all the extensions that have been given out the last couple weeks, and even back to last year with the Harrison Smith extension. If you were wondering, this was the right move for Spielman. Read this article from Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com:
— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) August 8, 2017
Zimmer said he thought the defense would have been ready to play a real game 3 or 4 days ago. So what should we be watching for on defense?
- George Edwards, Vikings Defensive Coordinator, will be calling plays: This is what the Vikings are hoping to in the regular season too, allowing Zimmer to focus on the game and what he can do to help more in the aggregate, of the team, compared to focusing on the defense.
- Who will be the 3rd Linebacker: This could be the biggest question, going into the season, for the defense. Now, the 3rd LB isn’t as big as it used to be since offenses run 3 WR sets so often, which forces defenses to play with a 3rd CB instead of the extra LB. The candidates for the job are Emmanuel Lamur, Ben Gedeon, and Edmond Robinson.
- Mackensie Alexander Will Get His Shot in the Nickel: When that 3rd LB comes off the field in favor of another CB, to help in pass coverage, Mike Zimmer is hoping he can rely on Alexander to be that guy. If not, Terrance Newman will be waiting to take over the job. Unless injuries come into play, or we see BIG regression, the Vikings have plenty of depth at CB.
So, once the starters leave the game, which will likely be less time than it took you to read to this point, what else is there to look for? A lot.
- Michael Floyd vs. Second Team CBs: From all reports, Michael Floyd has been able to stand out at camp against one of the better secondaries in the league. Now, he will get plenty of playing time against a bunch of backups. Floyd, because of his DUI, will miss the first 4 weeks of the regular season, due to a suspension. When he does get back, the Vikings are hoping for him to step into the slot and be one of Bradford’s safety nets as a guys with the experience and success he has had. Well, in the preseason, we will see him get a lot of run as he heads into his suspension. He should look dominant against lesser defenders.
- Who Will Win the Backup QB Job: Taylor Heinicke has been raising some eyebrows at camp. It seems clear to most that he is trying to prove himself after he decided to punch inanimate objects before the season started last year, ending his season before it started. He is battling veteran, Case Keenum, who the Vikings brought in during the offseason.
- Special Team Battles: The Vikings brought in Marshall Koehn to push Kai Forbath in the place-kicker battle. Koehn has a big leg so look for that. Ryan Quigley was also brought in to push the envelope for Taylor Symmank, at punter. Watching these guys battle it out might be worth keeping one eye open while you sit on Insta, after the first half of the game is over.
It is just preseason. But it is football. Large humans tackling other large humans as they try to move an oddly shaped ball from their side of the field to the other, in 10 yard increments.