The 2015 regular season won’t kick off for another 147 days, but Vikings fans have plenty to look forward to until then. Minnesota will be “on the clock” Thursday April 30th, when the NFL Draft begins and Rick Spielman makes the 11th-overall selection. In late July, players will report for Training Camp in Mankato, ringing in the start of “real” football activities.
But, the fun begins in early August, when the Vikings suit up for a five-game stretch of preseason games. On Thursday afternoon, the NFL released its preseason schedule, which is outlined below:
Hall of Fame Game (Aug. 9th, 7:00 p.m. CT): Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Canton, Ohio)
Week 1 (Aug. 14th-16th): Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Week 2 (Aug. 21st-23rd): Oakland Raiders vs. Minnesota Vikings
Week 3 (Aug. 28th-29th): Minnesota Vikings vs. Dallas Cowboys
Week 4 (Sept. 3rd): Minnesota Vikings vs. Tennessee Titans
A quick glance at the schedule reveals a rather lackluster set of opponents — Tampa Bay (1), Oakland (4), and Tennessee (2) will all select in the top 5 of the NFL Draft, making those games must-win situations for a young Vikings roster. The Cowboys and the Steelers, on the other hand, reached the playoffs last season and will provide tougher matchups for Mike Zimmer’s team.
The Vikings kick things off against the Steelers in the annual Hall of Fame Game, which is played in Canton, Ohio. Then, they’ll play two straight games at home, taking on the Buccaneers and the Raiders at TCF Bank Stadium before traveling to Dallas. They’ll wrap up their preseason tour against the Tenneessee Titans, marking their last on-field action before September 1st.
We can’t predict what will happen later this month at the Draft, but intrigue surrounds a few of the Vikings’ preseason games.
Leslie Frazier, who was fired as the Vikings’ head coach in 2013, will make his first visit back to Minnesota as Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator when the team hosts the Buccaneers. The next week, the Vikings will get an early look at one of their regular season opponents, the Oakland Raiders. Both teams feature second-year quarterbacks, young players who surprised many with strong rookie campaigns and look to build on that success in 2015.
And finally, in what may be the most important preseason game of all, the Vikings will travel to “Jerry’s World” to take on the Dallas Cowboys. Week 3 of the preseason is historically known as “tune-up” week, in which teams give their starters extended playing time and evaluate key positional battles. The Cowboys impressed many last year after missing the NFC Championship by a catch (or no-catch), and will be a critical test before the regular season kicks off.
To make things even more complicated, Adrian Peterson may see action that game — but not in Minnesota’s trademark purple and gold. The embattled running back has expressed interest in playing for Dallas, and until he is reinstated on April 15th, Peterson’s status is up in the air. All signs point to a Vikings return, but crazier things have happened on draft day. We can’t rule out a Vikings-Cowboys trade just yet.
The Vikings’ preseason schedule is just the start of what could be Minnesota’s most exciting season in recent memory. We look forward to bringing you all of the latest news and analysis here at Vikings Territory!