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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings-Seahawks: 10 things to watch

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings face off with the Seattle Seahawks at US Bank Stadium on Friday night. Here are 10 things we’ll be keeping an eye on…

Which first-team offense will show up?

In the Vikings’ first preseason game against the Denver Broncos, Kirk Cousins was fantastic in his lone drive, completing four passes including a touchdown to Stefon Diggs. But against the Jaguars last Saturday, Cousins and the first-team offense sputtered. This week Cousins said Friday night’s game will be a better indicator of where the Vikings’ offense stands especially if they play the entire first half.

Mike Boone and Roc Thomas

The battle rages on between the Vikings’ two promising young running backs. In Denver, Thomas was the star, scoring two receiving touchdowns, but against Jacksonville Boone was the standout, rushing for 91 yards. It would appear Boone is in the lead for the job, but the final two preseason games could determine which player wins the RB3 job. Furthermore, the prospects of either Boone or Thomas could add another wrinkle to the Vikings’ offense, which is already deep with skill players. Of course, they each have to prove they can perform for more than one week.

Zylstra’s debut

The wide receiver battle has been messy throughout camp. Brandon Zylstra put himself on the map early on, but missed the first two games with an injury. He’s expected to play against the Seahawks, which gives him a shot to jump over a number of other players battling for a job. Zylstra has excellent hands, which have shown throughout camp. He will have to shine over the next two games in order to win a spot on the active roster.

The rise of Chad Beebe

The undersized slot receiver has made a name for himself over the last two games, catching a touchdown pass against Denver and appearing in the second quarter against Jacksonville (plus making one nice 14-yard catch and playing a strong game on special teams). It could be the special teams element that puts Beebe ahead in the race. Right now he has a leg up on receivers like Jeff Badet, Korey Robertson and even veteran Tavarres King. It may ultimately come down to a decision between he and Zylstra.

Remmers and Hill return

The Vikings’ offensive line has been a huge story throughout camp because of a rash of injuries. But things are supposed to start looking up. Starting right tackle Rashod Hill and right guard Mike Remmers are expected to be back in the lineup. That means three-fifths of the expected starting line will be in place against the Seahawks. Nick Easton is out for the year and the Vikings are still waiting on center Pat Elflein. While the O-line will look stronger, we still could see changes before opening day if they don’t perform up to par.

George Iloka

We probably won’t see much of the Vikings’ newest acquisition, but George Iloka indicated that he expects to see a little game action on Friday night. It won’t be clear exactly what his role is until regular season, but maybe there will be some hints how he could be rotated in with Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo.

Cornerback

Judging by practice this week, both Mackensie Alexander and Mike Hughes will be out. Aside from Terence Newman playing with the first team, the door will be open for other corners to take over in the second half of the game and potentially make some noise. Holton Hill has not been a standout in either game or camp. He’s running out of time to win a job or even a practice squad position. Horace Richardson and Craig James are both in the mix. We’ll also see plenty of Marcus Sherels on defense (though it would be surprising if he got axed at this point considering his strong special teams history and appreciation from Mike ZImmer).

Defensive line rotation

With injuries on the D-line last week, Ifeadi Odenigbo stepped in and sacked Jaguars QB Cody Kessler twice. Odenigbo, a 2017 seventh-rounder, spent all of camp as an interior D-lineman, but played his best on the outside. Where will we see him on Friday? Also Tashawn Bower is likely to return, Stephen Weatherly has had a strong preseason as has Jaleel Johnson and Jalyn Holmes is looking to show the coaching staff he can mix in.

The rules

There was a lot of conversation around the league — and at TCO Performance Center — about the NFL’s helmet-hit rules following a bizarre call against the Jaguars last week and a penalty on the Vikings’ Antwione Wiliams when he sacked Kessler. In total there were 20 flags for 200 yards. Will that be the case again against Seattle? Or will the NFL find a way to slow down the stream of penalties?

Linebacker

Williams, Eric Wilson and Devante Downs are all jockeying for position. Wilson has been especially good throughout camp, but the Vikings seemed to feel they got a steal in Downs when they selected him in the seventh round. The rotation on Friday could tell us where each linebacker stands.

The post Vikings-Seahawks: 10 things to watch appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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