Gridiron Preseason Preview: Vikings at Titans

With a 90 man roster at this point of the preseason, there will be plenty of performances to note following Saturday’s preseason game in Tennessee.

Starting in the morning, I am going to be taking a few days off to attend the wedding of some close friends, so I didn’t want to miss the chance to give you all a heads up in regards to what I will specifically be looking for when I watch the DVR’d game on Sunday night.

Here are my top five things to keep an eye on during Saturday’s game:

1.       The New Starters

It sounds like the Vikings only plan on playing their starters for a very limited amount of time on Saturday.  One quarter, tops.  Still, I can’t help but be interested in watching the new members of this roster that could be starting against the Titans.  Quarterback Donovan MCNabb, left tackle Charlie Johnson, defensive tackle Remi Ayodele, defensive end Brian Robison, weakside linebacker Erin Henderson, wide receiver Michael Jenkins, fullback Ryan D’Imperio, and whomever ends up starting at safety next to Husain Abdullah.  How these guys end up performing for the Vikings will greatly determine their success in the future, so it is only natural to be anxious to see them in action.

2.       The Top Rookies

Quarterback Christian Ponder and tight end Kyle Rudolph have had their rough stretches in training camp so far, but both have also shown some flashes.  The first step to being a successful first teamer is to be a successful third teamer.  These guys should see some decent time on Saturday and, as the top two picks of 2011, it will be fun to get our first glimpse of the two newbies.

3.       Injury Concerns

Despite what the Packers managed to accomplish in 2011, one of the most important factors in being a successful football team is staying healthy.  The Vikings have had some minor health issues in training camp but there have been no devastating injuries yet.  Saturday presents the best chance so far for a serious injury to take place, and every preseason game I can be found nervously biting my fingernails hoping and praying nobody goes down hard.  This game, for me, will be no different.

4.       Jaymar Johnson

It seems like every year the Vikings have a receiver featured in training camp that exceeds expectations, gets the hopes up of the fans, and seemingly becomes a favorite target for the backup quarterbacks.  Last year that guy was Logan Payne who didn’t survive final cuts, but this year it is Jaymar Johnson who seems likely to continue being a Viking for at least one more season.  Johnson has the speed and skill set to succeed in the Vikings offense and contribute on special teams.  One year after being place on I.R., it is long overdue that Johnson gets a chance to prove himself once and for all.

5.       D’Aundre Reed

At 6’ 4” and 261 pounds, the athletic pass rusher out of Arizona never saw much playing time in college, but caught the eye of the Vikings staff.  They opted to take a late round flier on the pass rusher and so far it is looking like the decision might be paying off.  Reed is playing very well in Mankato, constantly getting pressure and regularly coming up with the sack, I’m really looking forward to seeing how he does in a game setting.  The numbers game puts him on the roster bubble, so how he performs in these preseason games could greatly impact his chances of remaining on the roster into September.

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