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10 Vikings-Jaguars Storylines To Follow This Week

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 5, 2012 – 6:50 am

Wednesday of Week 1 has finally arrived, which means it’s time for the Vikings to put the pedal to the metal in their preparations for Sunday’s season-opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. We’ll have a busy day at Winter Park today, with a morning walk-thru followed by a Leslie Frazier press conference, and then an afternoon practice with players available afterwards.

It all gets going later this morning. While you’re waiting for all of that, though, here are 10 Vikings-Jaguars storylines to follow this week…

1. Vikings Open Season At Home
For the first time since 2007 and just the second time since 2005, the Vikings will open the regular season at home. The Vikings logged a 24-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons and Adrian Peterson scored the first TD of his career the last time the Vikings opened a season at home. It’s a treat for the fans to open a season at home, and it’s a nice advantage for the team, too, after opening on the road the past four seasons. Expect Mall of America Field to be a loud and fun environment on Sunday.

2. Will Adrian Peterson Play?
The biggest talker surrounding this game all week will be the status of RB Adrian Peterson. He’s been determined to play in Week 1 throughout his entire rehab, and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier has not ruled his star RB out. Frazier said on Monday that Peterson will be a game-time decision. If Peterson can’t play, the Vikings will place the ball in capable hands, with Toby Gerhart set to handle the job. If Peterson can play, the Vikings will have an outstanding one-two punch at RB.

3. How Much Will Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew Play?
Jacksonville has an issue of their own at RB. Their star – Maurice Jones-Drew – was a training camp holdout and didn’t report to the team until this week. Jones-Drew is one of the best RBs in the NFL, so the Jaguars likely aren’t too concerned about his readiness. But the fact remains Jones-Drew has been away for quite a while, and there will be somewhat of a learning curve for him as he gets back into football shape and learns the Jaguars new offense. Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey, a former Vikings TE, has said that Rashad Jennings will start the game, but he also disclosed that Jones-Drew will play.

4. First-Rounders Kalil, Blackmon And Smith Debut
Both the Vikings and Jaguars were active in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and now both the Vikings and Jaguars hope their 1st-rounders will be active during the season. The Vikings originally held the #3 overall pick, but they traded with the Cleveland Browns and dropped back one spot. With the #4 overall pick, the Vikings selected LT Matt Kalil. The Jaguars originally held the #7 overall pick, but they moved up to the #5 position in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select WR Justin Blackmon. Then later in the 1st round, the Vikings moved up to the #29 position to select S Harrison Smith.

This week, those three 1st-rounders will prepare for their NFL regular season debuts. Kalil will be Christian Ponder’s blindside protector, while Smith looks to help the Vikings secondary make big-time improvements from last season. Blackmon figures to play a key role in the Jaguars offense all season, as he’s coming off a productive preseason in which he showed the transition from college to the NFL will be no problem for him.

5. Clash Of 1st-Round QBs From Class Of 2011
Entering his second season, Vikings QB Christian Ponder is determined to show he can lead an NFL franchise to prominence. It’s only fitting, though, that Ponder begins that quest on Sunday against another QB looking to accomplish the same task for his franchise. While the Vikings selected Ponder with the #12 overall pick in 2011, the Jaguars moved to select Blaine Gabbert with the #10 overall pick.

As rookies last year, neither opened the regular season as their team’s starter. But both eventually ascended to the top of the depth chart. Gabbert got the nod in Week 3 after the Jaguars began the season 1-1, losing their Week 2 contest to the NY Jets by a score of 32-3. Ponder replaced Donovan McNabb in Week 6 during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, and then the next week was named the Vikings starter for the remainder of the season.

All of that is in the past. Sunday represents the future, as Ponder and Gabbert will open the 2012 regular season as their teams’ starting QBs. Ponder enters the season coming off an offseason in which he displayed big-time improvement from his performance as a rookie and Gabbert enters the season coming off a preseason in which he also displayed significant improvement from his rookie performance.

6. Will A Vikings WR (Besides Percy Harvin) Step Up?
Jerome Simpson has impressed every step of the way since joining the Vikings this spring, but he’ll be unavailable to the team for the first three games of the season. That opens up an opportunity for another WR to step up and produce in Simpson’s absence. Granted, the vertical, field-stretching WR is not going to represent the bread-and-butter of the Vikings offense. Still, though, having that threat adds another element to game-planning for the opposing defense. Michael Jenkins is the reliable veteran; Devin Aromashodu impressed in the preseason finale and has good speed to stretch the defense; Stephen Burton is good after the catch and continues to progress; Jarius Wright looks more natural in the slot, but he impressed with a long reception in the preseason finale as well.

Will one (or more) of these guys step up? The opportunity is there.

7. John Carlson Making His Way Back
The Vikings moved this offseason to acquire TE John Carlson, giving them an athletic pass-catching TE to pair with another athletic pass-catching TE in Kyle Rudolph. The tandem of Carlson and Rudolph will allow Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave to draw up designs that will create mismatches in the middle of the field.

Unfortunately, Carlson injured his knee during training camp and wasn’t able to play in the preseason. Carlson has been making steady progress, though, and is getting closer to a return. On Monday, Frazier could not say if Carlson would make back to the field by this weekend, but the MN native has a chance. If he can play, the Vikings offense will have an added dimension and Ponder will have another talented target in the passing game.

8. Healing Ankles
Outside of Carlson, the Vikings stayed quite healthy all of training camp and the preseason. Until the fourth preseason game, that is. In that game, LB Marvin Mitchell, S Andrew Sendejo, CB Marcus Sherels and WR Jarius Wright all injured their ankles. It’s unknown if any of them will be able to play on Sunday, so it will be worth monitoring their status leading up to the game. Sherels is the Vikings punt returner and he’ll be involved in sub packages on defense, while Mitchell and Sendejo figure to be core special teams players. Wright has the makings of a dynamic playmaker, both on offense and as a returner, so the Vikings are hopeful he’ll be able to suit up in the season-opener.

9. Doleman To Receive Hall Of Fame Ring
Former Vikings DE Chris Doleman was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2012 last month, and on Sunday the Vikings will present him with his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime ceremony.

10. Looking To Restore Home-Field Advantage
The Vikings have had a significant home-field advantage since moving into Mall of America Field in 1982. The team now has a combined record of 157-88-0 (.641) all-time at Mall of America Field, which includes a 6-4 mark in postseason games. The Vikings have gone undefeated 3 times at Mall of America Field (‘89, ‘98, ‘09) and have finished the season undefeated at home 8 total times in team history.

Unfortunately, the Vikings have gone just 5-11 at home the past two seasons. It’s time to turn that home record around, and this Sunday against the Jaguars in the season-opener is a good time to do it.


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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 44 Comments »


44 Responses to “10 Vikings-Jaguars Storylines To Follow This Week”

  1. By Fran Tarkenton on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    You skipped over #6, Wobby..

  2. By Mike Wobschall on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Good catch. Thank you.

  3. By Frederick Jones on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Nice long article by Wobschall!

  4. By Frederick Jones on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    MoonDoggJones has a gut feeling that Peterson should not play for several games. Why risk the future of the franchise before he is 101% ready?

  5. By sandiamond on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Leslie Frazier tells 1500ESPN.com that defenders can hit Adrian Peterson w/out limitations today in prax for first time.

    Yea!! AD is back coaches can now determine the right move for this sunday

  6. By vikingology1 on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    I still don’t understand why the Vikes would’nt have Webb return KO. They say they don’t want him to get injured, but are fine with Harvin doing it.

  7. By lannys9 on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Why isn’t Justin Blackmon suspended for his DUI shortly after being drafted?

  8. By rogerthevikefan on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    How about this for a story line which 1st round QB from last year will show he belongs. Ponder or Gabbert?

  9. By rogerthevikefan on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Gabbert Pee pants or the Great one know as Ponder?

  10. By TNViking on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    I think the game comes down linebacker play by Minnesota. Sure our defensive backfield is suspect but we upgraded, not a whole lot, but we have. It’s the linebacker play that scares me the most about the team. Don’t let Dean play! Unless he’s learned how to wrap up.

  11. By rogerthevikefan on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Didn’t see number 5. But that really is the main story line it should have been no. 1.

  12. By rogerthevikefan on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Any LB that can’t tackle should be cut. Its there main job. They should know how to do it already.

  13. By josh k on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Did EJ Henderson ever sign with a team?

  14. By Ozzinator on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Oz thinks Fredward is worried about AD. Ol Ozzy wonders what Fred might know that the rest of us don’t. Oz ponders………

  15. By rogerthevikefan on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    No.

  16. By dieseldog on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Speaking of linebackers…..am I the only one who thinks Greeway is overrated?
    Just curious.

  17. By dieseldog on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    sometimes the most interesting part of this blog is the names of some of the guys posting

  18. By PurplHaze on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    By dieseldog on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Speaking of linebackers…..am I the only one who thinks Greeway is overrated?
    Just curious.
    *******
    That’s not very “fanlike”.

    Greenway didn’t secure his long term deal sitting on his hands. He’s definitely our best LB, and in my opinion there’s not even a close second! Plus, he gets brownie points for being my “homeboy”! :-D

  19. By RichardA1 on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Ponder does not seem competitive enough to play QB, he’s so average it is scary. It seems, when things are going perfect, the smallest bad thing happens and the whole offense folds, I mean does he have any ability like scrambling. powerful arm? I sure hope his QB skills get better. I think its Greenways consistency, he play is a little better than average. Vikes looked like they have no bounce, they can dish it out but they can’t take it, to many big gains by there opponents.

  20. By TheValentine84 on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Being something like the 3rd leading tackler in the entire NFL is overrated?

  21. By derka derka on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    OM, Richard. Does he have scrambling ability?? Are you serious?????? What is with you? Maybe he needs to “grind up his battle ax”. Man, I’ve seen some dumb bloggers, but you take the cake. Rather than talk football, all you do is spout off about swords and a battle ax. This is football, A MANS GAME. Quit making it into a freakin cartoon. GOOD GOD MAN!!!

  22. By derka derka on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    @Richard1A-I mean your here now, pointing out the negatives, yet every other blog you are predicting the team to go 16-0. You need a dose of reality.

  23. By derka derka on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    And I completely agree with Valentine, as a matter of fact, he is one of the most UNDER RATED LB’s in the game. The guy has been the teams leading tackler for the past two seasons. Not to mention he gets at least a couple picks a year. Just because he is not raved about on ESPN, does not make him overrated. some of you guys only want a freakin hollywood team. Go cheer for the Eagles if that is what you are looking for.

  24. By iaVIKE on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    lol. Solid rant, derka. Couldn’t agree more about Greenway, one of the best in the league.

  25. By Spencer on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    *11. The Return of Chris Cook.

  26. By TITUS KNOWS BEST on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/sports-nfl/20120905/Billick-Eagles-NFC-East-2012/

  27. By Baba-Kluwe on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    @lannys9

    That’s a good question. How did Blackmon avoid a suspension? Who’s he blowin?

  28. By RichardA1 on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    I do that for the spirit of things! I did’nt say they were going to be perfect, I said unbeaten! So Ponder can move the team a few drives, big deal, has he done anything to show his extremely exciting qb play? no! Dum Bloggers? there are people on here for 30 postings every post calling each other names, give me a break, if that is not dum, chidish I do not know what is? A cartoon? those were the real Vikings, that is the way they were, to real for yuh?

  29. By RichardA1 on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Excuse me for my positive input, this team is going 16-0, team is going to kick ass!!!

  30. By Spencer on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Titus- who ya got tonight?

  31. By T.HARRIS on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    I think Greenway is overrated as well.I saw him missed a sure interception last year in his hand.Made me say hmm…

  32. By sandiamond on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    lol, yea who does titus predict so I can bet a ton the other way

    hyg spence

    starting safety update

    http://min.scout.com/2/1218545.html

  33. By sandiamond on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    http://www.vikings.com/team/injury-report.html

  34. By RichardA1 on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Derka, I know I’m Crazy! I’m getting dressed in my viking clothes, sword in hand, and I’m leaving now walking, for the dome, on the way I’m going door to door on the way telling everyone to gather there Viking gear, and then we are all making our way to the dome, there will be a riot squad waiting for us, when we finally get there, we is gonna be pumped and ready for the game! SKOL Song playing all the way!

  35. By dee jay born on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    curious to see how Jasper Brinkley and LeTroy Guin play.If they just play decent our main stars on defense is gonna shine even brighter.PS…How did AD do in practice today with full contact ?

  36. By Frederick Jones on Sep 5, 2012 | Reply

    Dear Ozz,

    You are undoubtably the wizard!

    So answer this question…Why are there only about 32 posts on this blog, and only about 22 on the next blog?

    Hair of the FredDogg

  37. By Purple Helmet on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Firstly Im a vikings fan. From a betting perspective the analyis given is sure to leave you broke Derka. I think there is ample reason for arguiong that Greenway is a little above average…but no ledgend. Wearing your colours is admireable, however, dreaming of a 16-0 means your medication levels are to high and fiction has blurred with reality. Get real man…..check the stats 8-8/ 9-7 this year or Ill give myself a BJ..

  38. By oDIm on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    In very poor taste P Helmet. When Pat was there, Greenway seemed twice as good. This year he may get better. Mike, If you wanr to restore home field advantage- why pass on so many high paiid, quality FAs ? When you’trer looking to the other teams’ cuts to build the roster, expect to sweep everyone at home? Not!

  39. By dieseldog on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    T-Harris – thanks for the Chad Greenway comment . I agree, Greeway is avarage at best. On a team like Green Bay he’d be a backup. He’s a good guy and all that, and he plays hard. He just hasn’t displayed any game changing plays like lets say A.J. Hawk.

  40. By dieseldog on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Purple Haze – to say that it isn’t very “fanlike” when someone says a player is just “average” makes about as much sense and putting a swim suit on a fish.

  41. By Purple Helmet on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Seems like a large percentage now contemplate that Greenway is gaged as ‘average’. Some people cant see the woods for the trees. Being ‘Fanlike’, comes in understanding the whole dynamics of the game, gaging strengths and weaknessess. Heres hoping for a wildcard this year, but it will be a tough achievement. 16-0 ….yeah in your dreams!…depending on where you look Jags solid and consistent defence will factor laregly on this match up

  42. By celticvikingwarrior on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    @ derka derka……THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU….That “cartoon” drives me absolutely CRAZY, along with much of what I read on this site….
    There are some very astute and well thought out comments and opinion’s by some very good people as well, but sadly to say you (we all) end up reading some of the most INANE GARBAGE EVER WRITTEN…..
    THANKS AGAIN…..

  43. By JSG on Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    Greenway is big time, he”s elite. There’s a massive difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3. If your looking for someone to blame because Greenway is’nt flashy blame Frazier. He knows it and this year they’re going to feature his athletic ability a lot more. Ware and Clay are flashy LB’s in a 3-4 they’re always rushing the QB and they have a lot more freedom. We play a Cover 2 which isnt as flashy and hancuffs individual players highlight plays when it comes to LB’s and DB’s especially. Greenway will blitz a lot more this year and have more chances at big plays.

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