Minnesota Vikings: Hall of Fame Game is far from meaningless


The Minnesota Vikings are preparing to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game tonight, but don’t expect to see Adrian Peterson, Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown or even James Harrison.  Instead, both teams will use tonight’s contest to see what the young players on the roster have been able to accomplish this offseason.

Sep 29, 2013; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) scores a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports

As of now, the only big name reported to be sitting this game out for the Minnesota Vikings is Peterson.  His backup, Jerick McKinnon is expected to get the start in his place.  Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is expected to see some action as well, but may not be in the game very long if the team can execute the concepts that they worked in during practice.

In a recent interview on the ESPN website, head coach Mike Zimmer said that the time the first team offense will get depends fully on how they perform from the beginning.  Here is what he said:

"“We want to look crisp, we want to look sharp and I want to see the things that we have been practicing being taken to the game field,” Zimmer said. “Whether it is techniques or alignments, certain things against people that you really haven’t prepared for and how they react to certain things that they’re not prepared for. Obviously, it is evaluation of a lot of different players going against other players.”"

Even if the team struggles mightily and can’t get things going, I personally wouldn’t expect the first team to be out there more than a couple of series, possibly a quarter at most.  However, once the first team leaves the field, we’ll get to see several rookies and young, talented players fight for their roster spots.

It is that competition that makes for excellent television.  It wasn’t that long ago that preseason games brought us great moments from relatively unknown players.  For example, Audie Cole’s back to back interceptions for touchdowns and Adam Thielen’s fantastic play on special teams stick out in my head as occasions that made fans drop their jaws in awe.

Remember that while the starters may be sitting on the bench, that doesn’t mean that the football will become meaningless.  Seeing execution from the first team while evaluating the rest of the roster is very important to the future of this franchise.  The Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers are smart to make the most of that opportunity.

Next: Minnesota Vikings 2015 Game By Game Previews

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