After an entire offseason of waiting for training camps to begin, and then three weeks of training camp with no games, and then three preseason games, many fans regard the fourth and final preseason game as a mere formality that is more scrimmage than it is game. But for many NFL players, the fourth and final preseason game means the world.
The Vikings fourth and final preseason game of the 2012 season is tonight against the Houston Texans, with kickoff slated for 6:00 p.m. CT. Following the game, the Vikings will have tough decisions to make as they whittle the roster down to 53 players and then scan the waiver wire to see if any players discarded by other teams can make a difference here.
Before that process begins, though, that final preseason game must be played. Below are a few aspects of tonight’s game that I’ll pay quite a bit of attention. Check them out, and then in the comments section below this entry let us know what you think about them and let us know what you’ll be watching for tonight…
At this point it’s hard to know how the Vikings QB situation will shake out. There are four QBs in camp, and only Christian Ponder’s status is secure. Expect Joe Webb to start tonight, and then we’ll see some combination of Sage Rosenfels and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Each QB brings a different skill set to the table, and each QB would play a distinct role on the team.
Opportunity at WR
Percy Harvin is a game-changer, Michael Jenkins is a reliable veteran, and Jerome Simpson will make an impact for the team once we get past his 3-game suspension. But after those three, there is room for a couple other WRs to make the team and help the passing game. Rookie Jarius Wright is coming along well as the preseason rolls along, and now it appears he’ll have a chance in the punt return role as well (more on that later). Three others – Manny Arceneaux, Devin Aromashodu and Stephen Burton – will get significant looks tonight as they try to make a final positive impression on the coaching and scouting staffs. All three players have the capability to play the X receiver spot while Simpson is away, now the question is which players will display that ability in a game. We’ll find out tonight.
Blanton makes his debut
The Vikings 2012 draft class appears to be promising, but one member of that class has not been on the field yet – S Robert Blanton. That will change tonight, as Blanton figures to see extended playing time. He’ll likely start the game, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him play well into the 2nd half. Furthermore, Blanton could even be joined by fellow Notre Dame product Harrison Smith in the starting lineup, giving us a look at an intriguing starting combination.
The Vikings selected Blanton with 139th overall pick last April and have converted him from a college CB to an NFL safety. Blanton’s transition to the NFL hit a speed bump in training camp, though, when he injured his hamstring.
Filling out the RB stable
There aren’t many – if any – teams in the NFL with a better one-two punch at RB than the Vikings combination of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. But you need more than two RBs, and the Vikings have a few options on the roster. Matt Asiata has impressed once again this preseason (he impressed me last preseason, as well), and has shown he’s more than just a plodding, blocking FB. Veteran Lex Hilliard was signed as a free agent this offseason, and he’ll get plenty of looks tonight. Rounding out the competition is Jordan Todman, a young speedster who has battled a leg injury during camp but appears to be getting healthier. They will all get a chance to prove their worth tonight.
What else are looking for tonight? Let us know by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry…
Tags: Devin Aromashodu, Harrison Smith, Jarius Wright, Joe Webb, Jordan Todman, Lex Hilliard, Manny Arceneaux, Matt Asiata, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Reggie Jones, Robert Blanton, Sage Rosenfels, Stephen Burton
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 273 Comments »
On Thursday night at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier will lead his team in an exhibition game against Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak. But that won’t be the only football field in Houston where a Frazier and a Kubiak will come together.
About three miles down the road from Reliant Stadium, the Rice University Owls will open their regular season by hosting the UCLA Bruins. Both Frazier and Kubiak have sons who play for Rice – Corey Frazier plays DB and Klein Kubiak plays WR. Suffice it to say, the Frazier and Kubiak families will be busy and they’ll be split on Thursday night.
Earlier in the week, Frazier was asked if he’d spoken with Kubiak about getting updates from the Rice-UCLA stadium during the Vikings-Texans game.
“We’ll both be trying to get information along the way,” Frazier said. “That’s weird that they’re playing at the same time we’re playing right across 10, 15 minutes from where we are, so we’ll both have our minds split a little bit, I guarantee.”
Leslie Frazier played CB for the Chicago Bears from 1981-85, where he was a member of one of the best defenses of all-time – the 1985 Bears defense that led the franchise to a Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. Corey Frazier is listed as a 6-1, 210-pound safety and is entering his senior season at Rice. Gary Kubiak was a QB for 9 seasons with the Denver Broncos, where he backed up Hall of Famer John Elway. Klein Kubiak, listed at 6-1, 195 pounds, is a WR entering his junior season.
The Vikings and Texans are slated to kickoff at 6:00 p.m. CT, while the Rice-UCLA matchup is set for a 6:30 p.m. start.
Tags: Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 19 Comments »