With the NFL Hall of Fame Game kicking off the pre-season Sunday night with the Arizona Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints facing off, the Minnesota Vikings are preparing for their own pre-season game against the San Francisco 49ers Aug. 10 at 8 p.m.
Granted it’s only the pre-season, but given the 49ers’ success last season, the Vikings will come into this football game as heavy underdogs.
Minnesota has much to improve on from last season’s horrendous 3-13 season.
After suffering a torn ACL and MCL last season, Adrian Peterson has shown great promise in his recovery. However, coach Leslie Frazier has not taken him off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. All signs are still pointing to a great recovery by A.P., and hopefully Peterson can still be the anchor of the Vikings offense.
Christian Ponder is entering his second year as the Minnesota Vikings quarterback. His rookie season did not go quite as planned, splitting time with backup QB Joe Webb for a good portion of the season. Having a full off-season will obviously help the second-year quarterback, and he has shown much improvement in training camp.
Percy Harvin will be the star of the Vikings receiving core this season. After a bit of a bumpy off-season with a contract dispute, Harvin showed up to practice ready to play. If he can avoid his consistent migraines, Harvin could have big numbers this season being Ponder’s number one target.
The offensive line will feature the Minnesota Vikings first round draft pick Matt Kalil after taking lots of intense reps this off-season with Jared Allen. Kalil has proven that he is the real deal and will be a stud.
The rest of the offensive line is fairly shaky. Right guard Geoff Schwartz has a sports hernia and will miss at least a month.
As far the the Vikings defense goes, there are many holes that need to be filled. Jared Allen and Kevin Williams will anchor the defensive line, probably the strongest point of the Vikings defense. Allen, who had a career best 22 sacks last season, will have a massive obstacle ahead of him if he is to have a better season than last.
Chad Greenway will be the veteran of a young linebacker crew. Jasper Brinkely will be taking over the middle linebacker position. Both will be out to prove themselves against the 49ers.
The Vikings secondary can’t be any worse than last season. Antoine Winfield has been taking plenty of reps this pre-season, but Coach Frazier has stated that he will continue to tread lightly when using Winfield.
Winfield will be the only veteran in a sea of young players. Rookie Harrison Smith is fighting Jamarcus Sanford and Mistral Raymond to earn the starting Safety position. The pre-season has shown that this may be another shaky year for the Vikings in the secondary.
The Minnesota Vikings will open their regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 9 at 12:00 p.m. at Mall of America Field.