After a long offseason, training camp and then the preseason, the regular season is now just a few days away. And what better way to kick it off than with a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game between the Vikings and New Orleans Saints?
That’s exactly what will happen on Thursday night as the Vikings and Saints kickoff the 2010 NFL season at the Louisiana Superdome.
Given that the game is the first of the 2010 regular season and represents a rematch in what was a tightly-contested NFC title game from a year ago, there will be no shortage of adrenaline in anyone’s bloodstream. But there’s one player in particular on the Vikings roster who will be anxious to get back out on the field and do what he does best – play football.
CB Antoine Winfield played in that NFC Championship Game, but Thursday night’s season-opener will be the first time Winfield has been on the field and fully healthy in quite some time. The 12-year veteran injured his foot in Week 6 last season and missed several weeks before he was able to work his way back into the lineup. And even though he got back on the field, he never got to 100% healthy.
“I’m very excited, considering I didn’t play that much last season,” Winfield said. “I’m anxious to get back out there and play. It’s a real important game for us. It’s the opening week, the whole world is going to be watching, so we’re very excited about it.”
While Winfield acknowledged the magnitude of the Vikings-Saints matchup to open the regular season, he also made note that Thursday night’s game is 1 of 16 on the schedule and thus it’s important that he and his teammates don’t let emotions cause them to stray from the game plan.
“Oh, game one,” Winfield said when asked if this game meant more than any other or if it was just the first of 16 on the season. “You can’t go into it trying to do too much, trying to jump routes and then giving up touchdowns. I just want to go out there, play my game and see what happens.”
While a few faces here and there have changed for both the Vikings and Saints since they last met in January, the core of each team remains intact. Saints QB Drew Brees will guide a Saints offense looking to be as explosive as they were a year ago while Vikings QB Brett Favre and Co. will look to match New Orleans stride for stride, just as they did in last year’s conference championship game.
“It’s going to be a fast-paced game,” Winfield said with a smile. “Our offense and their offense are very explosive. A lot of points may be put up on the board, [but] hopefully not for the Saints. It should be a great competition.”
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