Five Things To Watch For On Friday

There are many things to keep an eye on during Friday’s preseason opener against the Colts.  Here are my top five:

1.       Injuries:  As mentioned a few times, the Vikings have been incredibly lucky thus far in camp (I can’t believe Jasper Brinkley hasn’t decapitated someone yet).  However, preseason has taken its toll on the health of Vikings players in the past.  Memories of Chad Greenway and Heath Farwell being knocked out for the season are not that distant.  Perhaps no other factor will have a larger impact on the Vikings season than their ability, or lack thereof, to stay healthy.  Heck, even the quarterback battle looks like it will be decided simply by which quarterback can stay healthy the longest.

2.       Phil Loadholt:  While Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders, and Robert Mathis probably won’t see too much time on Friday, it will be interesting to watch Loadholt try to hold his own against one the better pass rushing teams in the NFL.  Loadholt’s ability to pass protect could not only affect the outcome of this season, but it might determine whether the Vikings draft a certain left-handed quarterback (who has had a lot of success with Percy Harvin) in next year’s draft.  Afterall, it’d be Loadholt that would be defending his blind side.

3.       Special Teams:  The Vikings coverage and return team on special teams lacked something last year… and that’s being incredibly nice.  However, even though it’s preseason, the Vikings might get a pretty good indication as to how well they’ve improved in these areas on Friday.  Watch for our backup defensive backs and linebackers to really go out and try and prove themselves on special teams.  Also, watch to see who the Vikings opt to take return duties.

4.       Nickel Battle:  The coaching staff has not tipped their hand as to who will get the nod as the Vikings nickel back.  Asher Allen, Benny Sapp, Karl Paymah, and even Marcus McCauley all seem to still be in the mix as possible solutions.  Friday could possibly give an indication as to who will get the job.

5.       And Of Course, Quarterbacks:  The talk of the game will be Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, without a doubt.  There is nothing really to say here, other than to watch how each of these guys actually performs when they don’t have the red jersey on.  When the rush is coming, Jackson tends to be less consistent.  Rosenfels lacks some mobility and makes the occasional big error.  It’ll be interesting to see who comes out looking best.

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