Preseason Preview: Vikings vs. Cowboys
The Vikings host the Dallas Cowboys at Mall of America Field at the Metrodome on Saturday. Kickoff is at 7 PM CST and the game will be broadcast on KARE 11 TV locally.
Your play-by-play guy will be Ari Wolfe and Mike Mayock will be your analyst with Randy Shaver serving as the sideline “reporter.”
The radio broadcast is on KFAN-AM 1130/KTLK 100.3-FM locally with your usual crew of play-by-play guy Paul Allen, analyst Pete Bercich and sideline reporter Greg Coleman. Pre-game show starts at 5 PM CST.
WHAT I’LL BE WATCHING FOR
Offense: We’ll get an extended look at the first team offense on Saturday, as the first unit will play at least the first half.
But again, Donovan McNabb will not have Visanthe Shiancoe to throw to because he’ll be on the sidelines resting his hamstring…again; nor will McNabb have Toby Gerhart at his disposal, who’s nursing an Achilles injury.
That does mean that we’re likely to a good bit of Adrian Peterson, so maybe we’ll get a glimpse of what his season may be like this year. I’ll be watching how often and how well he blocks pass rushers in the backfield.
I’ll be watching the offensive line as a whole but right guard Anthony Herrera returns to the lineup, so I’ll keep a close eye on him to see how he looks after returning from his knee reconstruction.
The big battle on offense is for the remaining receiver slots.
As much as I like Jaymar Johnson, I love what I’ve seen out of Devin Aromashodu so far this preseason.
Aromashodu has fought for contested balls several times during his limited action, demonstrating the strength to rip balls away from a defender. That’s a talent I haven’t seen from Johnson and one that could be very valuable if we’re destined to have a short passing game.
On the other hand, Jaymar Johnson is fast and if we’re destined to be a run-first offense, having a receiver who can stretch the field and take advantage of defenses stacked against the run would be nice, too.
Can we keep both?
Finally, the competition for the backup quarterback positions continue on Saturday with Joe Webb running the second team unit and Christian Ponder taking helm of the third-stringers.
Just based on quarterbacking skills and not athleticism, I think I’d give the edge to Webb at this point because he appears to be more comfortable and more calm throwing from the pocket than Ponder.
With McNabb, Webb & Ponder, the Vikings have something I don’t know that we’ve ever had in our history: Three quarterbacks on the roster at the same time with the talent and skills to be NFL starters. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life, as Bogart might say.
Obviously, Webb has one year under his belt and Ponder is a rookie but the talent both athletes have is obvious.
Defense: The Vikings D will be without tackle Kevin Williams (plantar fasciitis), cornerback Asher Allen (toe), linebackers Heath Farwell (hamstring), Jasper Brinkley (hip flexor), Ross Homan (concussion), and Mark Washington (shoulder) but Kenny Onatolu will return after recovering from a stress fracture in his foot.
While we will apparently have no depth at linebacker on Saturday, the starting unit would appear to be set with the Henderson brothers and Chad Greenway.
And though Kevin Williams will be out, we also appear to have fantastic depth on the defensive line with backup tackles Fred Evans and Letroy Guion and rookie Christian Ballard. Everson Griffen is a lock at defensive end but after that, we’ll see how Adrian Awasom and D’Aundre Reed battle it out.
I’ll also be curious to see our newly-acquired defensive end with the hilarious name of Stylez G. White will do.
The action on defense, of course, remains in the backfield.
Cedric Griffin got his feet wet last week with one series but he should get extended time on Saturday, which means we’ll get a good, hard look what our preferred starting cornerbacks look like together with Ced, Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook.
With Asher Allen sitting this one out, Marcus Sherels has another opportunity to shine. Will he shine bright enough to displace Allen as the dime back?
No one has run away with the opportunity to play opposite Husain Abdullah and I fear no one ever will, that this battle will continue into the regular season. We’ll see.
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