Tomorrow the Vikes have what is essentially their dress rehearsal against Dallas, and the Cowboys will provide a good test to see where the Vikings stand, and how they've progressed since the Titans game.
There was a noticeable jump in execution on both sides of the ball against Seattle, and that was very encouraging. I'm looking for more improvement, but not necessarily the same leap between Tennessee and Seattle. One thing I definitely don't want to see is any kind of regression.
Yesterday, I talked about two guys I'm really going to be looking at, but the whole team has things that I want to see improvement and/or progression on.
So here's what I'll be looking at, big picture, after the jump.
QB: I want to see Donovan McNabb continue to progress from last week. That means getting the first team offense into the end zone. They had an impressive 81 yard drive last week that started on their own two and ended in a field goal, but so far the offense has seemed to stall in the red zone. Finish a drive or two with a touchdown. It's been reported that Joe Webb will work with the second team, and between Ponder and Joe, I'd like to see some definite separation by one of these guys. Or, solid progression to the point I'd be comfortable with either one if McNabb gets hurt. Both have been inconsistent.
RB: Did Tristan Rogers' TD run matter last week? I doubt it, because the top three of Peterson, Gerhart, and Booker seems to be set. Show off Booker some more; I like the way that guy plays the game, and I think he might be a very valuable third down back. Speaking of third down, I'll be paying more attention to see who the Vikings have in there in regards to pass protection. It's been terrible from the running back position since Chester Taylor left.
OL: Anthony Herrera will start at right guard, and that's encouraging. If he can get back to serviceable, it helps the line immensely, and also improves depth, which is a very big concern for me. Charlie Johnson is a guy I'll be looking at a lot as well; last week I thought he did okay, and he definitely improved from the Tennessee game. No injuries is the big thing for me here; I think the o-line has been okay so far, just stay healthy.
WR: I want to see Bernard Berrian step up. He's been quiet, and I want him to make some catches and prove my doubts about him wrong. Who's going to be the fifth WR? Will there be a sixth? It's been a constant storyline so far, and I think the fifth and sixth spot is down to Jaymar Johnson and Devin Aromoshadu, with Camarillo still holding the 4. We shall see, though.
TE: Shiancoe's injury has officially gone to 'disconcerting' for me. But this provides another opportunity for Kyle Rudolph to shine. He's had a very good pre-season, and I think he is starting to emerge as a primary target. When Shiancoe comes back, McNabb will have two great safety blankets to throw the ball to.
DL: With Kevin Williams out, whoever starts opposite Remi Ayodele will probably be the starting DT on opening day. I'm thinking it's going to be Letroy Guion, because he's been better than Fred Evans so far, and maybe it's just me, but he seems to have been on the field more--that's just anecdotal eye test opinion on my part, though. Brian Robison is someone I will be watching closely as well. For the backups, Christian Ballard and Everson Griffen have really impressed me so far, and I'd like to see them keep building on that.
LB: It's the strongest unit on the team, in my opinion. Erin Henderson has filled Ben Leber's shoes nicely, and Mike SIngletary is doing a great job with these guys.
DB: I want to see more Cedric Griffin. He looked good in limited play last week, but now he has to play for an entire half. I'm sure no on is more ready than he is. Chris Cook looked okay last week; much better than he did against Tennessee, and I hope he keeps it up. More Marcus Sherels, please. If he doesn't win the dime back job over Asher Allen, I'm going to be mad.
I also want to see Jared Allen give another sideline interview and bag on the Metrodome. I probably want to see this more than anything else.