The Minnesota Vikings enter tonight’s ‘dress rehearsal’ game with Seattle needing answers at some key positions on both sides of the ball. Injuries have muddied some waters, excellent play has muddied others, but tonight we should get some clarity on who will get an inside track on winning a starting job or a roster spot.
Let’s take a look at some key battles.
Offensive Line: Things here have settled down a bit, as Mike Remmers and Rashod Hill have returned to practice. Whether they play tonight or not remains to be seen, and Pat Elflein has yet to come off the PUP list, but overall things are looking up here. However, there’s still the starting LG position that needs to be decided, and maybe even the starting RT job.
At LG, Tom Compton is still shown atop the depth chart, but Danny Isidora and Aviante Collins have looked good playing there as well. All three have been somewhat inconsistent, though, and I don’t think Compton has this job secured yet. Between the three, I think you can make an argument for either one to be starting, and if you make me rank order them I think I’d go Collins, Isidora a close second, and then Compton right now. But if you ask me again in ten minutes, that could change, that’s how close I think these guys are to one another. If you like Compton’s flexibility to play guard and tackle, it might be between Isidora and Collins, though. I honestly believe any one of these three guys can win this job. Hopefully we’ll know more by the end of tonight’s game.
Brian O’Neill, the second round pick who was supposed to be a year away from starting at tackle, has looked really good at times, both in camp and during the first two games. He’s made the most of this opportunity with Hill out, and has steadily improved since camp began. But is it enough? If Hill looks good tonight I think the job is probably his, but O’Neill still has an opportunity.
Third Running Back: Roc Thomas or Mike Boone? Each guy has looked really good at times, and this is the most heated roster spot left. Thomas flashed in the preseason opener, but Boone made up a ton of ground last week. Thomas seems to be the better fit in this offense in terms of being a runner and a pass catcher, but holy smokes is Boone a violent, downhill runner, and his stiffarm is football sex. Even though Latavius Murray fumbled twice last week, his spot as the primary backup to Dalvin Cook seems secure, so one of Thomas or Boone is probably going to get cut. Whoever plays well tonight gets the inside track to the job.
Fourth Wide Receiver: After the top three of Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Laquon Treadwell...I have no idea who will win the last one or two spots here. Kendall Wright? He seemed like a sure thing as a free agent acquisition, but he really hasn’t done a whole lot. Cayleb Jones? He’s going to be suspended for the first four games. Brandon Zylstra? He’s been hurt most of camp and has been largely forgotten. He’ll finally get some game action tonight so maybe he can make a case for himself. Chad Beebe? He had a touchdown against Denver, and has made some noise, but is it enough? Stacy Coley? He seems fairly secure, but it’s not like he’s gone out and grabbed a spot, either. There’s still a lot of uncertainty here, and the first guy to step out from the masses is going to be the guy that takes the lead for the last spot or two.
Defensive Line: Things are starting to look uphill for fourth round draft pick Jalyn Holmes (he went to Ohio State, in case you were wondering). He’s been injured, and that allowed Jaleel Johnson and Ifeadi Odenigbo to state their cases for a roster spot...and have they ever. I think Johnson’s spot was fairly secure coming in to training camp, and this was always going to be a battle between Odenigbo and Holmes, to be honest. The OSU fan in me wants them to keep Holmes, because I honestly think he’s good...but if they do it would be based on potential and the fact he was a fourth round pick, not based on him out-performing Odenigbo and Johnson so far this preseason. He’s clearly third in a two horse race right now, and unless there is a steep and rapid reversal of fortune, it feels like Holmes has too much ground to make up.
Safety: This seemed pretty cut and dried until the surprise signing of George Iloka a couple of days ago. Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo are safe (duh), and I expect Iloka to be rotated in between the two spots or have the Vikings draw up some looks using all three guys on the field at once. But that means either Anthony Harris or Jayron Kearse need to be really worried right about now, and Harris has a distinct edge here. Harris played the most snaps of any defender in the Jaguars game (60, or 76% of the game), and Kearse didn’t even play. The writing is on the wall for Kearse, it seems.
Who wins RB3?
This poll is closed
They both make it and the Vikings will cut Latavius Murray