Final preseason checkup

  • Article by: KEVIN SEIFERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2007 - 2:06 PM

«The Minnesota Vikings will be a better football team this year. That's my strong belief.» — Brad Childress, March 2007

That quote served as our springboard this summer in examining the Vikings' strengths and weaknesses entering training camp. So — after nearly three weeks in Mankato and four preseason games — do the Vikings appear to have maintained their strengths while shoring up their weaknesses? Beat writer Kevin Seifert re-examines, based on a scale of Better, Baby Steps, Same or Worse.

Offense

MUST IMPROVE

Big plays in passing game

The Vikings' 6.3-yard average per attempt last season was their worst in 22 years, and they set a franchise low with 13 touchdown passes. The Vikings seemed to make some progress this summer on the former, as QB Tarvaris Jackson and WR Bobby Wade connected on three passes of more than 20 yards, but their shots into the end zone were rare in practice and games: Wade had the first team's only touchdown pass, on a trick play, before backup QB Brooks Bollinger threw one against Dallas in the preseason finale. Verdict: Baby Steps

Skill level of pass catchers

Wade quickly ascended to the top of a thin group, most importantly displaying ability to run after the catch. But new TE Visanthe Shiancoe was inconsistent in practice and mostly invisible in preseason games, and WR Sidney Rice looks like a possession guy. WR Troy Williamson looks far from reliable, and the arrival of Robert Ferguson suggests serious depth issues. Verdict: Worse

Cohesion on the offensive line

LT Bryant McKinnie's early hamstring injury caused too many personnel ripples, and it's clear coaches don't fully trust Artis Hicks at RG. They gave Anthony Herrera every chance to beat him out. But McKinnie, LG Steve Hutchinson and C Matt Birk all looked more comfortable and were opening holes for the run game. Verdict: Baby Steps

MUST NOT FALTER

Running game

No concerns here. RB Adrian Peterson can dash through holes or create his own through a combination of moves and speed. He is an early candidate for Rookie of the Year. Chester Taylor appears invigorated, and the Vikings' only concern is if defenses sell out with against the run. Verdict: Better

Defense

MUST IMPROVE

Pass rush

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