NASHVILLE - One thing I've learned from decades of writing about sports is that if you follow the ball, you don't learn much.

Tom Kelly, while managing in World Series, would not watch the ball. He'd watch what players away from the ball were doing.

So as much as I can during Vikings games, I try to watch one player who may or may not wind up near the ball. The Viking I'll be watching today: left guard Alex Boone.

The Vikings need to run the ball more efficiently and protect their quarterback much better this year. Alex Boone is their biggest addition to an offense that was not highly productive last year. With Shaun Hill scheduled to start today in the season opener, Boone will need to clear holes even when the defense isn't particularly worried about the pass.

On the defense, I'll watch nosetackle Linval Joseph. The Vikings' defense can still improve against the run, and Joseph's ability to stop the Titans' rushes up the middle, or at least occupy blockers enough for linebackers to make plays, could be a key.

It's a beautiful day in Nashville, one of America's most underrated cities. Enjoy the game.


My podcast with VikingUpdate publisher Tim Yotter is up at, along with shows with Roy Smalley, Michael Russo, Jon Krawczynski and me talking to myself on my show.


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