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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Scouting Report: 5 Things To Watch On Sunday Night In San Francisco

Mike Wobschall

The Vikings and San Francisco 49ers will get together at Candlestick Park on Sunday night to put a wrap on Week 3 of the NFL’s preseason schedule. The game will start at 7:00 p.m. CT and will be televised nationally by NBC as part of the Sunday Night Football telecast.

Football fans know the third preseason game is considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season because starters will play into the 3rd quarter and most of those starters will not see the field in the fourth and final preseason game. So with that in mind, let’s go over five storylines to watch for this Vikings-49ers matchup.

1. Adrian Peterson will play
Football players play football. So as much as some may fear exposing the NFL’s MVP to injury during an exhibition game, the Vikings have decided the benefit of Adrian Peterson playing is enough to take on the injury risk. It’s good for Peterson that he’s playing because it’ll be his first game action since last season. It’s good for the offensive line that Peterson is playing because blocking for No. 28 is unlike blocking for any other running back and the line must get its timing down. But it’s also very good for quarterback Christian Ponder and the passing game that Peterson is playing because now they will get a more representative look at what kinds of looks they’ll see once the regular season begins and Peterson is in the backfield constantly.

2. Vikings defense faces the read-option
We’ve talked about this a lot all week on the website, but it bears repeating here. The Vikings face several teams who have the kind of quarterback that can execute the read-option attack, so it’s good to see that attack here in the preseason.

3. Spot duty for non-starters with the starters
Earlier in the week, Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams suggested that several guys currently listed as non-starters will see some time with the starters on Sunday night. This is a wise move by the Vikings coaching staff because football is a game of attrition and a team is only as good as its depth. The best way to see what kind of depth you have and where you need to improve that depth is to have the guys providing the depth play with and against starters. Expect to see that on Sunday night with guys such as Desmond Bishop, Bobby Felder, AJ Jefferson, and several defensive linemen, just to name a few.

4. Can Vikings special teams keep looking special?
From veteran long snapper Cullen Loeffler to rookie punter Jeff Locke and kicker Blair Walsh to the Vikings coverage and blocking teams, the Vikings special teams group has been solid this preseason. All phases combined, Mike Priefer may have had the best special teams group in the League last year, and this preseason his crew has actually shown improvement. That needs to keep happening on Sunday night, as the Vikings will face a special teams that, as Priefer told me earlier in the week, out-performed them last season in Week 3 despite the Vikings ability to get a win in the end.

5. Bubble watch
We talk all off season about training camp battles that will be waged down in Mankato. Then when we get to Mankato we talk about who is winning those battles and which new battles are emerging. Well, now we’re to the point where those battles are going to be decided. There are two roster cutdown days coming up in the next 8 days and what happens on those two days will be partially a result on what happens on Sunday night in San Francisco. Guys such as Stephen Burton, Felder, Zach Line, Anthony McCleod, plenty of offensive linemen, Bradley Randle and Joe Webb, just to name a few, have a great opportunity on Sunday night to make a strong case for themselves. It will be fun to watch.

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