Friday, August 29, 2008

Preseason wrap-up

Perhaps overlooked in the titanic struggle of the third-string quarterbacks in last night's preseason finale was another piece of news slightly more important to Vikings fans. Team owner Zygi Wilf has apparently rejected a plan from a Los Angeles business developer to move the team out west.

Now, if we can just get a new stadium built (indoor or outdoor) -- hey, I live in North Carolina, won't be my tax dollars funding it!

As for the game itself, John David Booty performed well enough to beat out Brooks Bollinger for the #3 QB spot. He would probably have needed to throw about five interceptions to lose out (or Bollinger to throw five touchdowns), but nothing's guaranteed until cuts come on Saturday. Expect Bollinger to be among those released.

Other than that, there were battles for a number of backup positions during the game. Like the Vikings, the Cowboys rested most of their starters, and, for the first time, the running game showed signs of life. Running back Albert Young, whose 42 carries in the preseason are 18 more than the next-highest total, managed 4.9 yards per attempt on 14 carries, but he's still a question mark to make the team considering their impressive depth at the position. Martin Nance and Aundrae Allison had nine and eight catches, respectively, in the preseason, and were the only Viking receivers to top 100 yards; they'll probably be the #4 and #5 receivers, putting Robert Ferguson's job in jeopardy.

On the defensive side, coaches were impressed with linemen Brian Robison and Otis Grigsby, who can provide valuable depth on defensive front; rookie defensive tackle Letroy Guion also had a sack. Benny Sapp, with eight tackles last night, probably will stick as a dime back. And how can you not love Chris Kluwe, booming it all night to the tune of a 44.9 yard average on nine punts?

Then there's Tarvaris Jackson. He missed his second straight game with his MCL injury, but was apparently "putting tension and weight on that knee" during warmups and showed no signs of a limp. Clearly, Vikings fans (not to mention Brad Childress) were hoping he'd get more time in the preseason to sharpen his skills, but, even for a young and relatively inexperienced QB like Jackson, any improvement he might have gained in preseason would likely have been minimal. He would have sat out last night's game, along with the rest of the starters. So, in effect, he missed about 2 1/2 quarters of action in the Pittsburgh game. Weigh that against the 12 games he started in 2007 and I think the impact of missing that action, against whatever experience he gained in 2007, is very slight. It's more important that he's healthy when the Vikings travel to Green Bay on the first Monday night of the season.

Tomorrow or Sunday, I'll look at the cuts, both for the Vikings and around the league, to see if there are any interesting stories. Next week, I'll do my annual (hey, I did it last year!) 2008 Season Predictions (ugh, how did that get all bolded?) and Vikings Outlook, as well as another little thing I'll be doing called "Prediction Accountability." And this year, I promise not to make (too much) fun of Jason Cole.

Do you smell that? It's football, and it's almost here!

No comments: