Training Camp for the Minnesota Vikings has been in full swing the past couple of weeks. The first preseason game takes place tonight as Minnesota travels to New Orleans to take on Teddy Bridgewater and the Saints.
The preseason is mostly boring to watch. The games mean nothing to the fans for the most part and the quality usually isn’t the best. Many of the positions are usually already determined and it consists mostly of players fighting for back end roster spots or a chance to be on the practice squad.
In honor of the Vikings releasing their first unofficial depth chart for the 2019 season ahead of tonight’s game, let’s take a look at some players to watch and position battles to keep in mind that will make watching a preseason game more interesting.
Perhaps the most exciting position battle to watch is at wide receiver. Even someone who hasn’t seen a football game before probably knows that Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are Minnesota’s bonafide studs. However, behind them, things get rather interesting.
The Vikings will keep four or five receivers on the roster. Currently, Jordan Taylor and Chad Beebe are slotted in as three and four while first round pick Laquon Treadwell is battling Jeff Badet, Brandon Zylstra and more to make the squad.
The once highly thought of draft choice has fallen out of favor in Minnesota and things might finally be nearing the end. Treadwell has been given every chance to succeed and yet finds himself in a battle just to make the team. Tonight could be a strong indicator as to which way the Vikings are leaning if Beebe, Taylor, Badet or Zylstra stand out. The writing could be on the wall for Treadwell.
Another battle going on is at the quarterback position. I think it is safe to say that Kirk Cousins is the starter, but there is some intrigue as to who will be his backup. Most teams only carry two QBs with one on the practice squad, so someone is likely to be cut.
First, we have the 5th year guy out of Oregon State in Sean Mannion who was signed in the offseason to vie for the backup spot. Second, we have Kyle Sloter who has been with the Vikings on the practice squad the past two seasons and has been in the good graces of the coaching staff during his time in purple. Lastly, we have the rookie QB out of Washington Jake Browning, who the Vikings feel very optimistic about.
With Cousins on the sidelines for much of the preseason, these three quarterbacks will have plenty of opportunities to show why they belong on the roster (or why they don’t).
The last area to watch that should be entertaining will be the new rookies on offense. The Vikings brought in two promising guys on offense early in the draft this past year. They used a second round pick on tight end Irv Smith Jr. out of Alabama and a third round pick on running back Alexander Mattison out of Boise State.
Smith Jr. and Mattison are almost guaranteed to have roles within the offense this year, albeit mostly as backups. Mattison is slotted in as the number two running back behind Dalvin Cook and Smith Jr. is currently behind Kyle Rudolph.
However, the rookies will get their chance to shine during the preseason and will receive plenty of valuable reps to help them start to figure out their place in the NFL. With Cook’s injury history and Rudolph’s age, Smith Jr. and Mattison will definitely play meaningful minutes over the course of the season.
Although it is only the preseason, I can’t be the only person to be excited that the NFL is back. And even though it is a Friday night, I probably will be glued in on the TV. Finally, Minnesota Vikings football is back.