The (0-3) Minnesota Vikings take on the (1-2) Tennessee Titans Thursday night in Minneapolis. The Vikings look to get the offense in sync before the regular season gets under way. The team doesn’t necessarily care about winning the ball game, but this is a game that needs to be played at a regular season tempo.
Christian Ponder had a solid performance last week against the 49ers. Other than the fumble he lost in the 1st quarter and an interception he threw, Ponder left the game 17-of-23 for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns. He orchestrated solid drives for each of his short touchdown passes. That is great news for Vikings fans, especially with Adrian Peterson not getting full reps.
This game is very important for backups to get first team work, especially at the fullback and defensive tackle positions. Earlier this week, Vikings fullback Jerome Felton was suspended 3 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Rhett Ellison and Zach Line take over the position for the interim. Ellison has been out of the lineup so Line may have an opportunity to start week one if he has another solid performance.
Personally, I like Line and believe he has performed very well in all of the preseason games thus far. Ellison may still have the leg up on Line at the moment, but this could be Line’s big chance.
Now, most of us thought the Vikings d-line situation was perfect. Rookie Sharrif Floyd was getting better, Kevin Williams was still healthy, and oh yeah, Jared Allen. The defensive line was looking better than ever until Floyd went down to injury in the beginning of the preseason. Vikings fans weren’t worried because Williams was fine and Floyd was drafted to learn the position and develop before taking over for Williams in the future.
We took this for granted as Vikings fans. Now Kevin Williams is down with a knee injury he suffered against the 49ers last week.
Who will step up?
The battle is now between Christian Ballard and Fred Evans. Ballard has amassed only a sack and a tackle in the preseason and Evans only has two tackles. This worries me coming into this preseason game. Even if Williams’ injury doesn’t cost him a chunk of this season, the risk for another injury is still there all year. Hopefully, these guys perform well tonight to help Vikings fans breathe a little easier come next week.
The defensive line isn’t the only thing to look at this week. The secondary hasn’t been all that spectacular. Chris Cook has been out a majority of the preseason and the secondary has been beaten on many deep passes.