Preseason action against the Bills kicks off Friday night from the Dome at 7 PM. Here are five Vikings I think need a good showing tonight to help themselves win a job or at least keep the guys below them from creeping up.
1. Erin Henderson
Somehow it became a dogfight between Erin Henderson and Marvin Mitchell. Reports suggest the coaching staff wasn’t impressed with Erin’s performance in the preseason opener, but are very impressed with Mitchell who is being described with words like “aggressive” and “nasty.” I don’t know for sure but I suspect Alan Williams thinks Mitchell is a better fit for the defense he’s trying to install. Henderson needs to make a few big plays and remind the Vikings why so many people became enamored with him last season.
2. Mistral Raymond
The only thing anyone remembers about Raymond’s performance in the preseason opener is the bad angle he took on Brandon Jacobs. Raymond is still probably the favorite to start opposite Harrison Smith when the season opens but that could change if he keeps struggling. He’s lucky his only competition is Jamarca Sanford and the rookie Robert Blanton otherwise he’d be out of a job already.
3. Jasper Brinkley
The Vikings handed him the starting middle linebacker job but that doesn’t mean it’s his to keep. Tyrone McKenzie has some potential, even if he’s not vastly experienced, and could still give Brinkley a hard run for the position. Audie Cole is lurking back there too though I still don’t see him as a viable starting MLB.
4. D’Aundre Reed
The Vikings have a bunch of defensive linemen to choose from and right now it’s a jumble. Reed has a slight leg up but that could easily change. Reed could do himself a big favor by having a good showing tonight. He needs to create some separation between himself and the people behind him.
5. Joe Webb
Joe became a cult hero for his scrambling heroics but there’s a new cult hero in the Vikings’ QB group and his name is McLeod Bethel-Thompson. MBT doesn’t make plays with his legs, he makes them with his arm, and that makes him a more attractive option as a developmental QB than Webb who actually seems to be regressing at this point. If Joe wants to beat back the MBT challenge and keep his hold on the #2 QB job, he should probably complete a couple easy passes tonight and not look like he’s totally lost.