The Minnesota Vikings will welcome the Tennessee Titans to Mall of America Field in Minnesota for the final preseason game for each team. The Vikings currently sit winless through three games, while the Titans are 1-2 up to this point. One of the questions we will figure out Thursday night is if the Vikings will finish the preseason without a win.
These teams are rather familiar with each other, as the Vikings were led by Christian Ponder’s 25-of-35 passing for 258 yards in the teams’ matchup last season, which ended with a 30-7 victory for the Vikings. While Ponder likely won’t play much Thursday considering the season kicks off next weekend, he should be given a few additional series on the field, as he has been unimpressive through his limited action so far this year.
It is clear that Ponder will be a starter come week one, despite the cries of many Vikings fans to give newcomer Matt Cassel a fair shot at winning the job. Even if head coach Leslie Frazier had given Cassel a shot at the starting spot, he would have fallen behind quickly, as he has struggled to complete more than 50 percent of his passes and was outshone by third-stringer McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
This third preseason game won’t be about the quarterbacks, however, but instead about the play of fullbacks Rhett Ellison and Zach Line. Pro-Bowler Jerome Felton will miss the first three games of the season, due to a combination of violating the leagues substance abuse policy and a second DUI, which means Adrian Peterson will have someone new blocking in front of him early this season.
Line is currently listed as the team’s only backup fullback on their depth chart on their official site, but Ellison has played time at fullback, mainly as a pass blocker. Line has made his mark on the preseason already, with a 61-yard touchdown catch along with another shorter touchdown in the team’s previous game. The starting fullback job, however, will come down to which player is a better blocker, making the fullback spot the most crucial position on the field in the Vikings’ upcoming battle with the Titans.
This last preseason game will also be the final time the coaching staff will get to see Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerome Simpson in game action before naming the starting receiver opposite Greg Jennings. While both will see time on the field in each regular season game, the majority of the snaps should go to Patterson, as he has shown solid hands in limited preseason action, and also provides more upside than Simpson, who disappointed in his first season with the Vikings.
You can grab Vikings tickets for tonight’s preseason finale for over 50% off.