Pre-Season Begins Tonight


Tonight’s the night we’ve all been waiting for – the opening of the 2007 Minnesota Vikings pre-season.

Yes, the Vikings are ready to go out there and do it for real – in a pre-season sense of course. Which means we’ll only be seeing the starters for a quarter, if that. Still, it’s football, the thing we’ve been craving since the season ended last December 31.

Our first opponent this pre-season is the Rams – a team that handed us a 41-21 beat-down in the aforementioned final tilt of the 2006 regular season. That game was a disaster in every sense – even our vaunted run defense crumbled, allowing Steven Jackson 142 yards and 4 TDs. It was not a pretty way to end a roller-coaster year.

2007 promises to be even more of a struggle than 2006 became after that surprising 4-2 start – at least going by the prognosticators, most of whom have the Vikings settling to the bottom of the NFC North. It’s hard to blame the predictors for being down on this team – we’ve got severe greenness at QB and WR, problems with our pass rush, a right side of the O-line that’s unproven, and a coaching staff that has yet to earn our trust. Most likely, tonight’s game will do little to answer any of the big questions we face. But there are still some intriguing things to look out for:

1. Quarterback play.

Reviews of Tarvaris Jackson have been mixed this training camp – and back-up Brooks Bollinger has been similarly inconsistent. There are still whispers that Brad Childress might want to add an experienced back-up before the season starts. If Jackson and Bollinger struggle in the pre-season, look for a trade or a waiver-wire pick-up.

2. Receivers

It’s hard to imagine a more untested group of ball-catchers than what the Vikings enter this pre-season with. Bobby Wade is our number one by default – and who knows after that. Troy Williamson has the talent to step up and be the main man, but he’s got issues as we all know. Then there are the kids, Aundrae Allison (who’s been hurt) and Sidney Rice (who’s also been hurt). Everyone complains that the pre-season is too long at four games – but four games might not be enough for the Vikings to work out who belongs where in the WR pecking order.

3. Defensive Ends

Who, oh who, is going to step up and give the Purple a pass-rush? Will it be Ray Edwards aka Kyle Turley’s BFF? Darrion Scott, who we’ve been waiting to see blossom for about ten years it seems? Some new guy like Brian Robison (who’s also been hurt)? None of the above?

4. Play-calling.

Brad Childress says he and Darrell Bevell will share play-calling duties. Chilly also says it will remain a secret afterward who called what. That’s because Chilly doesn’t want to take heat when everyone finds out Bevell’s plays were working and his weren’t. Chilly will probably keep the laminated play-sheet over his face even when he’s not calling the play, just to throw the other guys off. He’s cagey like that.

5. Chad Greenway

His first season was a wash-out thanks to injury. But now Greenway’s back on the field and ready to justify being picked in the first round. If Greenway rocks, our LB corps could be solid. Of course, E.J. Henderson will also have to adjust to the Mike spot. And Ben Leber‘s been banged up. Oh, do the uncertainties never end?

6. Adrian Peterson

Let’s face it – the guy we’re really stoked to see is our new offensive super-stud, the man they call AP. There hasn’t been such an exciting player to come through Purpleland since Randy Moss was at full-speed. We’ll all be on the edges of our seats tonight waiting to see what Peterson will whip out – assuming he plays, which he still might not.