Greetings from Kansas City, where the Vikings are warming up for their preseason game against the Chiefs, the temperature at Arrowhead Stadium is 97 degrees and the BBQ pulled pork sandwich consumed by this reporter at lunch has put me on the inactive list for tonight’s pre-game spread.
As for the on-field inactives, running back Adrian Peterson, who missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practices to deal with a personal matter, has joined the Vikings for their trip to Kansas City. Peterson suited up and took part in pregame warmups, but he is not expected to play. Matt Asiata is listed as the starter on our press-box flip cards, though these declarations are not 100 percent official.
Head coach Mike Zimmer has maintained throughout the preseason that he doesn’t need to see Peterson play in these exhibitions. Peterson hasn’t carried the ball in a preseason game since 2011.
“The only concern you have is he might not have been hit enough [in practice],” Zimmer said. “But our guys are grabbing at the ball a lot. They’re punching at the ball as he’s running in there.”
Rookie cornerback Jabari Price and linebackers Gerald Hodges and Brandon Watts will sit out against the Chiefs. They have been sidelined since the win over the Arizona Cardinals last week.
Cornerback Josh Robinson, who has battled a hamstring injury throughout the preseason, is not listed as out. We’ll see if and how much he plays. But it would behoove him to play and play well.
The Vikings will travel to Kansas City for their first preseason road game against the Chiefs on Saturday. It’s their third preseason game and a time when most NFL teams would like to have a resolution to any remaining training camp competitions.
Head coach Mike Zimmer, on the other hand, has hinted that some position battles could stretch into the fourth preseason game. He’s already bucked the exhibition trend by leaving his starters in for the entire first half in the second preseason game against the Cardinals. It’ll be interesting to see if Zimmer does anything different from last week as the Vikings ramp up for the regular season in two weeks. Here’s three things to watch:
1. WHO WILL BE THE STARTING QUARTERBACK? The Vikings will look to finalize the ongoing competition at quarterback, though Zimmer hasn’t publicly announced when he plans to make a decision. With the Jaguars selecting Chad Henne over Blake Bortles as their starting quarterback on Friday, the Vikings are the only team without a quarterback decision. While Matt Cassel Cassel hasn’t done anything worthy of a demotion, Teddy Bridgewater’s fourth quarter performance against the Cardinals last week kept him in the running. Zimmer hinted we could see Bridgewater with the first team against the Chiefs, although Cassel will start again and possibly play the entire first half again.
2. WHICH MLB AND SS WILL GAIN SEPARATION? It’s a close battle at middle linebacker and strong safety for the final two starting spots on defense. Head coach Mike Zimmer said linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Audie Cole have been fairly even and plans to rotate them in every two series, similar to his plan against the Cardinals. Strong safety Robert Blanton will play his first preseason game after returning this week from a hamstring injury. He started training camp receiving first team reps but missed three weeks with the injury. Blanton must fight to start against Chris Crocker, Jamarca Sanford, Kurt Coleman and Andrew Sendejo.
3. CAN MAUTI GAIN GROUND? Linebacker Michael Mauti received the second fewest snaps against the Cardinals, six, on defense. That should change against the Chiefs with rookie Brandon Watts and Gerald Hodges sidelined throughout the week with injuries. Mauti has gained first team reps at times in preparation for the Chiefs and should see more than six snaps. This will be a good chance to prove his worth with the increased workload.