The beginning of this week doesn’t just mark the start of Shark Week. It’s a game week for the Minnesota Vikings, they take on the Houston Texans in a preseason exhibition game on Friday at 8 p.m. ET. The team looks to improve on a few things before the season opener.
Christian Ponder throwing to Adrian Peterson out of the backfield. (Photo by: Doug Erlien)
Player updates by position:
Christian Ponder continues to progress. He had a pass heavy practice Thursday where he had to make more difficult throws. On Friday he made less throws than the day before but in this practice he made more throws from the pocket even with the rush in his face. He stepped up and made some solid throws throughout the practice. This is something Ponder lacked so far in his career. It’s good and great that the guy in a red jersey can step up in the pocket. How he will fare in live action remains to be seen.
Well, Adrian Peterson, need I say more? I will mention that Toby Gerhart has been working to get involved in the passing game more. He doesn’t see much action outside of blocking and backing up the best running back in the game. Which is a lot more work than it sounds. Jerome Felton has been dominating at fullback. He has been able to stop many guys from getting anywhere in the backfield on pass blocking assignments. Zach Line looks like a solid number two fullback thus far. He will see a lot of playing time Friday.
Jerome Simpson is penciled in as the starting receiver. I don’t expect that to hold with the emergence of Cordarrelle Patterson and his dazzling snags throughout the week. Another guy who has been making impressive catches in camp is Adam Thielen who has been all over the place making big plays. Hopefully that translates to the game field. Joe Webb is still a work in progress at the receiver position and Greg Jennings has been proving his worth as a veteran teasing the young guys while teaching them the ins and outs of playing in the NFL.
Charlie Johnson hasn’t done much to impress yet and neither has Phil Loadholt. Both have made some mistakes and are having trouble getting low which obviously would be an issue for the freakishly tall Loadholt. Johnson has been getting destroyed by Kevin Williams, which doesn’t tell me much considering it’s Kevin Williams he’s up against. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Williams is giving him the best look possible and will help him get better. Other than that John Sullivan looks okay and so does Brandon Fusco who looks like he can handle the pressure of Williams but has struggled against Guion.
I think this is the most stacked position on the team by a landslide. Everson Griffin has been faster while shining in practice. Another guy who looks good is rookie Sharriff Floyd who has been creating pressure all week. He had a great day Friday making a bunch of great defensive plays and a few sacks that were impressive. Jared Allen and Brian Robison have been giving up reps for some of these guys which is a good thing.
Between Erin Henderson and Desmond Bishop the level of play has been about what you would expect. Bishop is getting a grasp on the defense and feels comfortable now which means he will play more loose and can get solid reps on Friday. Henderson has been lacking in coverage. He is getting beat over the top a lot which is what middle linebackers can’t let happen. For Vikings fans this may become a growing concern. Stay tuned as this may get better with more footwork in the remainder of the preseason.
Chris Cook hasn’t been great on the pass defending front. He hasn’t had many interceptions if any in practice. The thing he has been doing well is lining up against Greg Jennings and the other receivers who usually give defenders headaches. I believe some of the lack luster secondary play the past few years has something to do with the lack of receiving depth to challenge them every day. This looks to be a thing of the past as the receiving core has gotten stronger this season. Hopefully this translates into progression as a unit.
Football is back everyone! Let’s enjoy the game this Friday and see the 2013 Minnesota Vikings get better.