With the final week of preseason already upon us, Minnesota has just one more game to play before roster cuts begin. The Arizona Cardinals have not been a team many (if any) believe will be great next year but as the Vikings enter today’s bout with an 0-2 record, there’s still storylines to follow. With kickoff at noon, here are eight things to watch for in the upcoming matchup tonight.
O’Connell and His Starters?
As Minnesota rounds out their team going into their matchup against Arizona, there are still plenty of eyes on a handful of guys who are teetering on the roster bubble. However, O’Connell has made the conscious decision this preseason to keep a handful of starters out of games. Whether a savvy move or not, it will be interesting to see if any big names get the nod come noon kickoff. Even if they don’t, there’s still a handful of players that have taken preseason by the reins.
Solidifying Backup Lineman
It wouldn’t be Minnesota football if the offensive line wasn’t brought into discussion. That said, take note of the first five names that hit the field today that aren’t Darrisaw, O’Neill, Ingram, Cleveland, or Bradbury. There’s a handful of guys that are on the bubble such as Sokol, Schlottman, and Udoh that need the extra reps and though Lowe and Brandel watch locked in, someone behind the starters has to step up. The past few games have been up and down so this afternoon is crucial.
Pass Catching Options
With the N’Keal Harry experiment over, the pack is starting to thin. Coming into the offseason, Reagor looked to be headed to the streets but unless he botches today (WILDLY I might add), he seems set to make this roster. However, Thayer Thomas, Trishton Jackson, and Brandon Powell are still competing for a roster spot. Similarly, who steps in for Hock? Though it remains to be seen if the star tight end will be available week one, his injuries are piling up this offseason. What is going on with Hock? Find out more here, but as for the time being Mundt and Muse make the most sense as a 1:1 replacement, but the order of tight ends will speak volumes to Minnesota’s plan with Hockenson.
Defensive Rookies Galore
The last few weeks have been all about the rookies. Though Kwesi’s first draft was rough in retrospect, it’s still early. However, this rookie class looks insanely good and Addison hasn’t even stolen the show. Guys like Ivan Pace Jr and Mehki Blackmon have been the talk of the defense. Scatter in guys like Jay Ward, Jaquelin Roy, and Jaylin Williams amongst others and the defense looks bright. Watch for a strong showing from the young pack of rookies as they make their final play at a 53-man roster spot.
Safety has been arguably the strongest position on our team, alongside receivers. There are six guys on this roster that should make the team, however not all of them will. Looking at it, Theo Jackson is probably the odd man out but his play has been electric. Seeing how the team uses these guys today and to what extent will give the greatest glimpse into who is locked in and who will go. Additionally, this is another chance for Cine to develop and for a youngster who’s played only a handful of games, he’s doing fine.
Face of the Franchise?
After a lot of speculation between Colt McCoy and rookie Clayton Tune during the first two weeks of preseason, Arizona went out and acquired Joshua Dobbs. Now with Kyler Murray still on the sideline, seeing who Gannon trots out and how they play against Flores’ defense is vital. Truly, it’s anyone’s position at this point and who starts week one is a mystery. Though the future of the Cardinals looks bright when it comes to draft picks, this year may be rough.
With a flurry of trades this last week, it will be interesting to see who replaces some of these guys but also, who else may be on the move. If Arizona is in full “tank” mode and sees value on the table for a few other players, it may be another fire sale come next week’s roster cut downs. Watch for which players see the field early and which make solid impacts. Though this one may not have a huge impact on gameplay, it will be interesting to follow come the time the game ends.
Defensive Leaders TBD
With Simmons on his way to the Big Apple, it’s time to see who steps up and leads this defense. Yes, Budda Baker is still here, but after that there are a handful of names that could have big-play impacts. From BJ Ojulari and Zaven Collins to backups who have turned heads like Josh Woods, Jesse Luketa, or Cameron Thomas. The hope today is Minnesota’s offense can get rolling however will this teams backups give our second, third, and fourth stringers fits like Seattle and Tennessee?