Found August 30, 2013 on Fox Sports:
The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings both enter the regular season relying on third-year quarterbacks to make significant improvements and justify the faith both teams have showed them early in their careers. Jake Locker, who was taken eighth overall in the 2011 draft, was coming off an injury-plagued first full season as a starter for the Titans. Christian Ponder, who was drafted four spots later, has been wildly up and down in his first two years on the job. The preseason was important for both young players to establish rhythm, chemistry and leadership going into what could be make-or-break years for them. Here's a look at how they did, and four other things we know about each team following the preseason. --- Five things we know about the Vikings: PONDERING THE QB: Ponder is throwing to a revamped receiving corps and has had to do most of his work with newcomers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson in practice. He played two plays in the opener - one completion and one interception - and was up and down in more extensive playing time in Games 2 and 3. He did not play in the preseason finale and enters the regular season with plenty of question marks. INTRIGUING ROOKIE: Patterson has shown flashes of the ability that made the Vikings pay a big price to trade back in the first round and grab the WR out of Tennessee. He needs work on his route-running, but the athleticism, speed and versatility in the return game have the Vikings excited about his future. SUSPECT SECONDARY: The Vikings let CB Antoine Winfield, a revered veteran in the locker room, go this summer, preferring to go with a youth movement in the secondary. But Chris Cook appears to be the only reliable, veteran cornerback they have at the moment, and he has struggled with injuries and off-the-field issues early in his career. The second unit was torched by Tennessee's backup quarterbacks and receivers in the preseason finale. DT DEPTH: Kevin Williams went down with a knee injury in the third preseason game, and coach Leslie Frazier is hopeful his six-time Pro Bowler will be ready for the opener. But there is a decent chance Williams won't be, and the Vikings have also had rookie Sharrif Floyd miss three weeks with a knee injury and Christian Ballard leave the team for personal reasons. So depth remains a concern in the middle. WHO NEEDS PRESEASON? Adrian Peterson didn't play a down of preseason ball last year while recovering from a torn ACL, and he followed that up with a 2,000-yard season and an MVP trophy. He only played a few snaps on one drive this preseason, but there's no doubt he'll be ready to roll on Sept. 8 against the Lions. --- Five things we know about the Titans: LOCKED IN: Titans coach Mike Munchak took the unusual approach of playing many of his offensive starters, including Locker, in the final preseason game. He wanted Locker to continue building on a solid preseason, and he did just that on an 18-play opening drive against the Vikings. For the preseason he completed 67 percent of his passes for 338 yards and one TD. ''I feel really comfortable with this group,'' Locker said. ''I like what we're doing offensively and I've got a lot of confidence in what we're doing, so I'm excited.'' MCCARTHY MENDING: LB Colin McCarthy was a defensive captain last year, but he's missed three weeks because of hamstring problems in the preseason. His action against the Vikings was his first this year, and he's trying to ramp up to get ready to help the unit when it opens at Pittsburgh on Sept. 8. He led the Titans with six tackles in the game. ''It felt great to get an opportunity during the preseason, when it doesn't really count, to go out there and knock some of the cobwebs off,'' he said. MUNCHAK ON HOT SEAT: The Hall of Famer went 6-10 in his second season and knows that the clock is ticking. That may be why he wanted to play so many offensive players in the preseason finale. The urgency is high. ''This is my opportunity, too,'' Munchak said earlier this week. ''Only so many guys get an opportunity to do what I'm doing. I appreciate it greatly to be in this spot. I don't want to let people down, and I want to give it all I've got.'' CORNERBACK SHUFFLE: Jason McCourty is the starter at LCB. Alterraun Verner and Tommie Campbell have alternated starts on the right side. Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said they could alternate starts between the two during the season depending on opponents. Verner struggled last week giving up a big completion to Julio Jones and was flagged twice for interference. ZOOM ZOOM: Chris Johnson raced a cheetah as part of a cable television special in the offseason, and he hit the ground running in the preseason. After a bounce-back year in 2012, Johnson has looked prime for another big season with an impressive exhibition campaign. He rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown, averaging 7.8 yards per carry, in the preseason. --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Vikings Jared Allen says the NFL is looking out for offensive players only

On Sunday night, Joe Looney of the San Francisco 49ers threw a block on a defenseless Kevin Williams in which it looks like he purposely dove at the big defensive tackles knees.  Well even though Looney has apologized and said he was not trying to hurt Williams, the Vikings defense has had enough.  Today Jared […]

Jerome Felton: I cried over suspension

Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton admitted to USA Today Sports that he cried over his three-game suspension. “Man, it hurts a lot,” Felton said after the Vikings’ preseason finale on Thursday night. “I’ve shed tears about it. It’s embarrassing just for it coming back 

Desmond Bishop taking nothing for granted

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Desmond Bishop is on the verge of becoming a starter after much uncertainty about his career only months ago. Bishop tore his hamstring in 2012 with the Packers and was later released, leaving his NFL future in doubt.

Minnesota Vikings: Tennessee Titans preview

Christian Ponder throwing against the Titans last season. The (0-3) Minnesota Vikings take on the (1-2) Tennessee Titans Thursday night in Minneapolis. The Vikings look to get the offense in sync before the regular season gets under way. The team doesn’t necessarily care about winning the ball game, but this is a game that needs to be played at a regular season tempo. Christian...

Vikings Lineman Seth Olsen Carted Off Field On Stretcher During Preseason Finale Against Tennessee Titans

Minnesota Vikings backup lineman Seth Olsen suffered a pretty scary injury Thursday night in his team’s final preseason game. Olsen sustained a neck injury and had to be taken off the field strapped down to a stretcher after taking a knee to the head in the second quarter of the Vikings’ game against the Titans, according to USA Today Sports. The fourth-year offensive lineman...

Munchak plays Locker in 24-23 preseason loss

Tennessee coach Mike Munchak gambled by playing much of his starting offense in the final preseason game. Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier wanted no part of that, and was reminded just how dangerous the NFL can be when one of his backups was carted off the field in the second quarter. Jake Locker went 3 for 5 for 31 yards and led the Titans (1-3) to a field goal on the opening drive...

OL Olsen taken off field on stretcher

Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Seth Olsen was taken off the field on a stretcher in the second quarter Thursday night after a collision with Titans linebacker Scott Solomon. Olsen was blocking on a screen pass when he took a knee from Solomon to his helmet and went down. Head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman raced to his side and immediately called for a stretcher as a hush fell...

5 Vikings factors to follow for 2013

Adrian Peterson, the reigning NFL MVP, will be the focal point of the Vikings, but the success of a team looking to “seize this moment” will go beyond Peterson. Here are five storylines to follow this year.

Vikings hand over financial documents for Wilfs' investigation

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings still aren't discussing important agreements pertaining to the construction and operation of their planned football palace. But they have taken a significant step this week in hopes of resuming those negotiations. As of Wednesday, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority's investigation into the team's ownership was moving along...

Minnesota Vikings starters no match for San Francisco 49ers backups

The Minnesota Vikings fell to 0-3 on the preseason as they were roundly defeated by the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers, 34-14, at Candlestick Park. The 49ers improved to 3-1 in preseason action. Letting them play The game was a study in coaching philosophy contrasts. San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh only played his […]The post Minnesota Vikings starters no match...

PJD's Preseason Game 4 Recap: An Epic Comeback

We Made It! We did it! Sure, I mean we won our game last night versus the Titans, our first and only preseason win, but moreso I mean we finally made it! We survived all of the crap that people made us put up with during this preseason and ridiculous training camps and Joe Webb conversations and punching your eyeballs from watching Christian Ponder and oh god, it's over....

From roster bubble to starting candidate?

A year away from the game gave LB Desmond Bishop a new appreciation for his health. The last couple weeks of strong play have given him a new opportunity at a starting position.
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.