Four Vikings' position battles to watch during third preseason game

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 23, 2014 - 1:50 PM

Vikings coaches will weigh QB, safety, corner and middle linebacker performances.


Jasper Brinkley (54) and Audie Cole (57) are battling for time at middle linebacker.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Vikings take the stage Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium for their third preseason game, which for NFL teams is typically the one that carries the most weight.

There will be butterflies for some players during this so-called dress rehearsal. But by all accounts, the Vikings don’t plan to treat this performance much differently than their first and second.

Sure, their scout team pulled on yellow jerseys late in the week to simulate such Kansas City Chiefs standouts as Tamba Hali and Eric Berry, but head coach Mike Zimmer said the game-planning was minimal.

The offense and defense have practiced pretty much everything in their playbooks, but that doesn’t mean they plan on putting it all on tape for the St. Louis Rams and the rest of the NFL to see.

And while the starters are expected to play at least one half, that wouldn’t be much of a departure from their game a week ago, when quarterback Matt Cassel and most of the starters got the hook at halftime.

“This is still a lot about us,” Zimmer said. “It’s still about what we do. We’ll have plenty of time to prepare for St. Louis when we get going in there. It’s more about the routine that we are going to do this week, so we get into the in-season schedule routine as opposed to really sitting down and game-planning.”

Still, even if Zimmer says the Vikings are treating Saturday’s exhibition as if it is just another warm-up before the regular season’s opening act, several players will continue to audition for leading roles, starting with the all-important decision at quarterback.

Picking the passer

Yes, Teddy Bridgewater looked good in carving up the Arizona Cardinals’ backups. And of course his preseason stat line would look good for any QB, let alone a rookie.

But barring an injury or a Douglas-vs.-Tyson-type upset, Cassel — whose 122.3 passer rating is even better than Bridgewater’s 106.4 — will be the starter in Week 1. Zimmer just hasn’t announced it yet.

Since the end of spring workouts two months ago, he has had a date in mind for when he would like to name a starter, but he is not sharing that date with anyone.

“At this point, it’s just going to be one of those things where we just wait and see,” Cassel said. “Coach will make that ultimate decision. At the end of the day, I’m going to continue to prepare and do what I need to do to get ready for the season. And then when the time comes and coach tells us, then that’s what we’ll have to deal with.”

The safety dance

If the competition at quarterback is the clearest, the battle at safety is the most confounding. The Vikings have auditioned a handful of safeties next to starter Harrison Smith, who seems poised to take a step forward under Zimmer. But injuries have made it hard for Zimmer to get a clear evaluation of some of them. And the fact that he brought in old buddy Chris Crocker was a sign that the healthy ones have not impressed.

Crocker, Kurt Coleman and Robert Blanton, who returned from a hamstring injury this week, have gotten most of the reps with the first-team defense. Meanwhile, Jamarca Sanford, who was the starter next to Smith in 2012 and 2013, seems to be an afterthought.

“We’re still trying to look at all of them,” Zimmer said. “Blanton will get a lot of time this week, because I haven’t seen him yet. We’ll give him a lot of plays. The rest of them, we are going to try and split up the time the best we can.”

Caught in the middle

Veteran Jasper Brinkley, who is back after a lost year in the desert playing for the Cardinals, has the edge on youngster Audie Cole in the battle to start at middle linebacker between Chad Greenway and rookie Anthony Barr.

  • related content

  • Three things to watch during Chiefs-Vikings

    The Vikings are in Kansas City for the pivotal third preseason game tonight. But head coach Mike Zimmer has hinted that some position battles could stretch into the fourth preseason...

  • Vikings kick in $46M more for new downtown stadium

    The Minnesota Vikings will put an additional $46 million into the new stadium rising in downtown Minneapolis. The addition was announced at Friday morning’s Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority board meeting.

  • Gameday preview: Vikings at Kansas City

    PRESEASON:VIKINGS VS. KANSAS CITY Game 3: 7 p.m. today • ARROWHEAD STADIUMTV: Ch. 11 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)about the vikings (2-0)After home...


    7 p.m. Saturday • TV: Ch. 11 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 93 FINAL
Denver 75
Phoenix 114 FINAL
LA Lakers 108
LA Clippers 84 3rd Qtr 1:30
Golden State 92
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 4 FINAL(OT)
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question