5 Things To Watch Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 13, 2011 – 1:15 pm

The Vikings preseason opener is tonight in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans. Here are five things to watch tonight when the Vikings and Titans clash in Nashville…

5. Mental mistakes, procedural penalties
No one on the field has a lack of competitive desire, but the truth of the matter is that the preseason is not about wins and losses. With the exception of guys at the bottom of the roster trying to bite, scratch and crawl for a spot, it’s about looking good, knocking the rust off and progressing every day. Coaches are more concerned about seeing zero missed assignments than they are about seeing 31 offensive points on the board. What we don’t want to see tonight are blitzers running free at Vikings QBs, running backs from the Titans bursting through the line of scrimmage without a hand on them and Vikings WRs cutting one way and the QB tossing a pass the other way. We also don’t want to see botched QB-center exchanges, false starts and illegal formation penalties.

4. The QB eye test
We’re going to have to go easy on crafting a water-tight judgment of Vikings QBs after this game. Remember, three of them are new Vikings (Rhett Bomar, Donovan McNabb and Christian Ponder) and the other (Joe Webb) may as well be new to the team because he’s learning a brand-new offense. With the lockout cancelling all offseason practices, offenses across the League have only just begun to install their strategies. So we’ll see a very vanilla style from the Vikings offense tonight, but I still want to see any Vikings QB who trots out there pass the eye test and at least look comfortable in all situations, whether it be a snap on first-and-ten or a pressure moment late in the half with time winding down and the defense dialing up a blitz.

3. Vikings pass rush
Jared Allen and Everson Griffen had great camps, but I’d like confirmation that they’re playing well tonight. Confirmation will come in the form of a few disruptive plays against the Titans. This might be a bit tougher to see from Allen because head coach Leslie Frazier may want to limit his reps to reduce exposure to injury, but I think Griffen will get plenty of reps tonight and I expect him to play well.

2. Kick and punt returners
The Vikings have a deep group of players competing for kick and punt return duties. This is an important role on the team not only because it helps the team win the field position battle, but also because anyone who can contribute on special teams will increase their chances of making the roster. If a WR can be relied upon to return kicks and cover kicks as well as run the correct routes on offense, he has a better chance to make the roster. If a RB can do the same while also showing good pass protection ability and a burst with the ball in his hands, then he has a better shot to make the roster. The same can be said for a CB trying to win the return job. RB Lorenzo Booker, WRs Stephen Burton, Percy Harvin and Jaymar Johnson and even a few members of the secondary are examples of players who can increase their value to the team by giving a good accounting of themselves in the return game.

1. Reserve offensive linemen
There are six offensive linemen you can count on (barring injury) being around once the regular season begins – LT Charlie Johnson, LG Steve Hutchinson, C John Sullivan, RGs Anthony Herrera and Chris DeGeare and RT Phil Loadholt. But who will fill in as reserves? The process of determining that begins tonight and, specifically, begins about midway through the first quarter when the starters will exit the game. Draft picks C Brandon Fusco and OT DeMarcus Love have had nice camps. The versatile Ryan Cook was brought back and could fill in anywhere. Veteran Scott Kooistra is a big body that can play both LT and RT. What about Seth Olsen, who filled in for Hutchinson at LG during camp a few times? There are several more names in the mix for reserve offensive linemen jobs and it’ll be interesting to see who plays well tonight.

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39 Responses to “5 Things To Watch Tonight”

  1. By DC on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t know how well McNabb will pass the “eye test”. He rarely looks comfortable in the pocket, even when he is. He often shuffles his feet as he goes through his progression. Even when he was playing at his best, he didn’t look as good as he played. Whatever the eye test shows, I think that the results will show that McNabb is a gamer. He’s also a Packer killer. He killed Green Bay in big games when he was with the Eagles.

    No one is expecting much, but I think that with McNabb and AP the team has a chance to compete this year.

  2. By Titus on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    One thing to watch tonight. Your TV.

  3. By BOB JONES on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply


  4. By Parody on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I’m going to be watching for the defense to step it up in the pass cover game. With no notable additions to the CB or Safety positions, (late round draft picks don’t count as notable in my book) I’m expecting the guys we have to show considerable improvement over last year.

    I would enjoy seeing an increase in turnovers from this group, but from what I saw in camp that seems highly unliekly. On more than one occasion, the ball ended up right between the numbers of a DB, but for the entire day the only interception I witnessed was by EJ Henderson.

  5. By Shawn on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply


  6. By Shawn on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    good grief … I tried to post five times and cant figure it out , i think Ill change my name to frusteraShawn ….

    anyway tonight Ill be watching … Viking football :)

    with a close eye on Charlie ” who do i block ” Johnson

  7. By Shawn on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    and Tyrell ” should I make a tackle ” Johnson

    lol johnson and johnson

  8. By sandiamond on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I’m sure Wobs will be back for another blog sunday or monday but we’ll be counting on MInn tv viewers to give us some updates on the game (players in particular)

  9. By Garrett on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I think mcnabb will suck….really bad

  10. By Titus on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I will be watching how the QBs play. I am sure Ponder will be impressive.

  11. By Rocksalt on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    Let’s see a pass rush! Let’s see our WR ‘s step it up (Berrian).

  12. By Shawn on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    @Titus … yea Im looking forward to a solid Viking season, I still think just from what Ive read that we are a bit weak in the OL and Safety positions which will keep us from super bowl champs but a playoff team will be so much more entertaining than last years Chillmess

    @sandi … I will be posting as long as im not the only one

  13. By Shawn on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    but we are on the viking blog so im expecting a good turnout tonight :)

  14. By Rocksalt on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    NFC Norris is gonna be tough this year! No easy games……

  15. By Rocksalt on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    Last year we had mental mistakes and procedural errors all through the season.

  16. By sandiamond on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    Rock excluding the north we have a good schedule. easier teams away and tougher teams at home. We get GB 1st in the dome then a breather in CAR and another breather with the bye week then a 2nd try at GB

  17. By Dakota fan on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I really want to see how our cornerbacks will do, thats what we need to work on is pass coverage and also the pass rush GO Jared Allen tear em’ up

  18. By Titus on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I am ready for kickoff.

  19. By Shawn on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    oooooooooooo its sooooooo cloooooooooose :)

  20. By Shawn on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    Ari wolfe + mike mayock


  21. By Rocksalt on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    so far not impressed with our D…….let’s hope the offense can play better

  22. By Rocksalt on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    well up to our D again…

  23. By Rocksalt on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply


  24. By Don on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    wwwwwwwwwwwwooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww….hmm no safety good play no corner good play…yep are d are going to get kill’d on the pass

  25. By Titus on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    calm down everyone– it’s just preseason.

  26. By Titus on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    It is far better to not show off too much to our real opponents during the regular season. McNabb looked good– has a bullet and spreads it around.

  27. By Don on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I’m Calm but you know just like i know what did you we do to improve are db’s

  28. By Don on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    and if that was a catchable ball allen would have got beat

  29. By Titus on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I am not passing any judgment until the San Diego game. It is normal for rust to be evident in preseason— Especially considering the lockout– and a new coaching staff, new QBs. This is normal– this is okay– no reason to complain.

  30. By Titus on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    Enjoy the game.

  31. By Don on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    Yea i hear you on that

  32. By Don on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    well can’t wait to see ponder play..i hope he gets a chance to play with the 2′s

  33. By Rocksalt on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    The Titans look good even tho its only preseason….do you seriously think that we are intentionally playin bad so as not to show our opponents anything? LOL. Is not the preseason to showcase those who are trying to make their presence on the team?
    So far, the Vike look lost.players not playing

  34. By Rocksalt on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I must say that I like the way the Titans team has prepared for this preseason game….

  35. By Titus on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    Rocksalt, I hear you… I just don’t want to dwell on it. The team will learn from tonight– of course, no one wants to be embarrassed in preseason.

  36. By Rocksalt on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    Let’s hope we learn from this……and are able to move forward. You are right in that it is only preseason, but if I were playin for the Vikes right now, I would want some of what the Titans are drinking…

  37. By Titus on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    I was impressed with McNabb— and with Peterson and Gerhart and the tight ends, our offense should be pretty good. The defense will catch up — we should make the playoffs.

  38. By Rocksalt on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    Titans sure look good……..

  39. By Titus on Aug 13, 2011 | Reply

    Titans look okay– but the regular season is a different animal. Vikings would crush the Titans.

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