Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks: Five Things to Keep An Eye On

  • Can the first-team offense show any signs of life? 

In their first pre-season action together, both of the Vikings first-team offensive drives ended in punts. Something many did not want to see.

Sustaining drives, while also generating the ball down field is some check boxes that some want to see fulfilled. Getting points, whether it’s a field goal or even punching it into pay dirt is something else that others want to see in their matchup tonight against the Seattle Seahawks.

The teams offense has been one of its biggest weaknesses in previous seasons. There are many new parts on the depth chart, even a somewhat new play-caller in Pat Shurmur who will be in his first full season calling the shots, it may take some time to see success.

  • Will the offensive line learn from their Week 1 mistakes? 

After surrendering two sacks in the pre-season opener against the Buffalo Bills, will the offensive line learn from their previous technichal mistakes? 

With the addition of Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers, and moving up in the draft to select Pat Elflein, the unit was one of the biggest emphasis of the off-season. The first-team unit was underwhelming, but the five offensive lineman up front take time to develop chemistry amongst one another.

The second and third-team units played well. They consistently provided a clean pocket to Case Keenum and Taylor Heinicke. Rookies in Elflein and Danny Isidora shined, while the prized free agent addition of Remmers got off to a rough start in his Vikings debut.

We are still unsure of the status of Reiff’s back injury and if he will see any pre-season action before the Sept. 11 season opener vs. the New Orleans Saints.

  • Can the first-team run defense improve? 

Last week, there were a countless number of times where the first-team defense gave up significant gains in the running game. Whether it was Lesean McCoy or Tyrod Taylor, the run lanes seem to be easy to find.

Facing a QB who has the ability to create outside of the pocket and run when necessary has always seemed to be the teams biggest defensive weakness.

Matched up against Russell Wilson tonight, keep an eye on how the defense adjusts to yet another signal-caller with similar traits.

  • Who from the 2017 draft class will continue to shine? 

Tashawn Bower — Arguably the biggest winner from the Vikings pre-season opener, Bower made his presence felt. Recording his first career NFL sack and consistently setting the edge against the run.

Bower has multiple tools that can be developed. Will he be able to continue to flash or will he come back down to Earth in Week 2?

All eyes will be on him.

Eric Wilson — After having a fantastic NFL debut, Wilson looks to continue to build on impressive showing from last week. He has generated a buzz after his early success, collecting eight tackles and being all over the field.

Wilson seems to already be the heartbeat of the second-team and they follow his lead. Tremendously good traits to see considering that he was an undrafted free agent.

 

  • Who will emerge in the specialist battle?

The brewing punter and kicker battles have went sort of under the radar at training camp, but things seem to be heating up. None of the competitors have separated themselves from one another.

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said in his Wednesday press conference that “the kicking and punting competition is very even and it might play through all four pre-season games.”

 

  • Bonus Thoughts

Safety Andrew Sendejo has missed practice the entire week, meaning that second-year safety Jayron Kearse will most likely fill the void on the first-team in his absence.

With the first-team unit, it will be interesting to see how comfortable Kearse looks after standing out in the opener with the second-team defense.

WR Laquon Treadwell returned to practice on Tuesday and reportedly took first-team reps. Hopefully the 2016 first-round selection will see his first action of the pre-season tonight.

Alex Boone has been sidelined with what’s being called a knee injury. In practice this week, the first-team offensive line has consisted of an interior of Nick Easton (left guard), Pat Elflein (center) and Joe Berger (right guard).

Episode 29 of the “Climbing the Pocket” podcast is live.

Topics include:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Adam Thielen
  • Jason Fitzgerald from OverTheCap.com
  • Seahawks/Vikings preview
  • Sam Bradford/Tyrod Taylor swap?

 

For NFL news and draft analysis, follow J.R. on Twitter @JReidDraftScout.

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