Just to put this out there right up front. . .this is not meant to be a substitute for Ted's Stock Market Report. Far from it. I simply haven't gotten a whole lot of chances to see the Beloved Purple this pre-season so far, and wanted to share a few of my thoughts on some of the action I witnessed.
The reason that my presence both here and at SB Nation Minnesota has been a bit scarce over the last month or so is because the Air Force gave me a last-minute tasking to attend the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy (NCOA) at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. Someone that was scheduled to go had something come up, and I wound up getting sent down here on fairly short notice. You know, sort of like what happens after someone discovers naked pictures of Miss USA. . .if the winner is unable to meet their obligations, the first runner-up will yadda yadda yadda. As this weekend was our last weekend down here, our flight decided it would be fun to go to a place here in San Antonio, eat chicken wings, drink beer (or Coke, in my case, since I volunteered to pull DD duty), hang out, and watch the UFC Pay-Per-View.
Fortunately, since the Vikings were playing the Cowboys, half of the televisions at our destination of choice. . .a place called Ojos Locos in San Antonio. . .were showing the UFC event, and half of them were showing Vikings/Cowboys. Seriously, I've been to Best Buy stores that don't have as many televisions on display as this place had. So, let me give you a little bit of what I saw last night.-Adrian Peterson is still a beast, he's still the best back in the NFL, and should still be the first overall pick in pretty much any fantasy draft anywhere. 81 yards on 14 carries, and a lucky ankle tackle away from breaking a huge run to the house. I'm not sure how much of that was a function of getting Anthony Herrera back at the right guard spot or anything like that, but Peterson was breaking runs all over the place. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what Peterson can do this season.
-I was a bit disappointed by the disappearing act from Kyle Rudolph. Visanthe Shiancoe sat out for the third straight time this pre-season, giving Rudolph an opportunity to shine, and he didn't have a catch on the evening. Then again, he was only targeted one time, and it looked like Donovan McNabb was making a concerted effort to get his wide receivers more involved in the game, so maybe that was by design. But one of the other things I'm looking forward to for the season opener is the Vikings getting the chance to have both Shiancoe and Rudolph on the field at the same time.
-From reading the comments in the Game Thread, I know that I wasn't the only one that had their heart in their throat when Antoine Winfield laid a nice hit on Jason Witten. . .and didn't immediately pop back up like he usually does. On the list of "players the Minnesota Vikings can't afford to lose," the name of Antoine Winfield is definitely at or near the top of the list. But not long afterward, Winfield was joking around on the sidelines, which allowed everyone to breathe a sigh of relief.
-Is it just me, or has there not been a whole lot of blitzing from the Vikings' first-team defense this pre-season? I know that Fred Pagac has promised a more aggressive style of defense, and we saw that at the tail end of last season after the elevation of Leslie Frazier, but unless I'm flat-out missing it, I haven't seen a lot of that yet. Maybe the Vikings are just saving it for the regular season, which would make sense.
-I don't think the secondary is going to be quite as awful as a lot of us have been fearing. Winfield will continue being Winfield, and Cedric Griffin appears to be coming around, considering that he's coming off of two ACL tears. The key is going to be the nickel position, since the Vikings spent about half of their snaps in 2010 with three defensive backs on the field. Whether that nickel spot is occupied by Chris Cook or Asher Allen or Marcus Sherels or whoever it might be, they're going to need to be prepared. The front seven should still be among the league's best, and if the secondary can hold up their end of the bargain, this team is going to surprise people.
So, how about everyone else? What did you see on Saturday night that you were encouraged by? What did you see that disappointed you?