The 4th preseason game is only exhilarating for your most diehard of NFL fans. Case in point, Dan Zinski is not watching tonight. Ha! Anyway… Most of our stallions won’t see the field. In fact the only thing you’ll see tonight from the Donovan McNabbs, Adrian Petersons and Jared Allens are interviews on the sidelines wearing purple sweat pants. But there are 3 position battles worth keeping an eye on tonight.
As we’ve touched upon before, Christian Ponder will start at QB tonight. So far this preseason Ponder is 17-33 for 207 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. In Ponder’s defense he didn’t have a full offseason of team organized workouts, has played entirely with the 2nd and 3rd string offense and is still a rookie. However nearly all of his completions have been on rollouts and has had several balls batted down when throwing from the pocket. It’ll be interesting to see how he fairs starting a game playing behind some members of our 1st team offensive line. Joe Webb’s stats this preseason are nearly identical at 12-23 for 170 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception and ran for a TD. It is alarming that Ponder, who was drafted 12th overall, hasn’t outplayed Webb yet. Tonight should set the expectations on whom the Vikings would turn to if McNabb went down.
News came out yesterday that Jasper Brinkley would undergo hip surgery and may be placed on injured reserve. In unison with that piece of news was word that the Vikings will try playing Everson Griffen at outside linebacker. The good news on Griffen is he runs a 4.6 40 and is agile in space. The bad news is he’s built like a defensive end and is probably not the best guy to cover tight ends as well as running backs in pass coverage. The door is wide open for Larry Dean to put his stamp down on making the team with his strong showing in preseason. Other guys jockeying for roster spots are David Harron, Erin Henderson, Kenny Onatolu and Heath Farwell. Farwell would need to have a huge night, but he could be a roster cut anyway with the Vikings barely under the salary cap and the special teams ace set to make $1.75 million this year.
With Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins unlikely to see many snaps (if any at all) the likes of Emmanuel Arceneaux, Devin Aromashodu, Stephen Burton, Greg Camarillo, Juaquin Iglesias and Jaymar Johnson are fighting for at most 3 roster spots. With Ponder throwing the ball having established chemistry with Aromashodu and Iglesias those two figure to have the upper hand, but anything can happen. If I were to handicap the chances of making the team at this hour – Aromashodu 80% (nice size/speed combo, can play both inside and outside, has talent and memories of the ’09 Bears/Vikings game where he burned Antoine Winfield in overtime are still with a lot of the staff), Arceneaux 50% (was nowhere the be found in the first two preseason games, but came on strong last week with a 43 yard reception), Iglesias 50% (excellent route runner who will go over the middle, good hands, but questions on if he’s done enough to stand out), Camarillo 20% (while sure-handed can only play in the slot – that’s Percy’s position – same story as Farwell on if he makes too much money to justify keeping), Johnson 20% (every year seems to fade away quicker after being an August hero, currently behind Marcus Sherels in punt return duties) and Burton 1% (struggled with drops in camp, likely a candidate for the practice squad if he clears waivers).
That’s it for now. We’ll be back with more after the game. Skol!
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig