Analysis

Fourth Preseason Game is Critical for Four Vikings

The fourth and final preseason game is only hours away, and the roster will then be finalized this weekend. Most starters won’t play tonight, but this matchup will still be huge for several Vikings hopefuls.

Brandon Zylstra

The former Canadian Football League star and Spicer, MN native is on the fringe of the roster. He made the final 53 last year, but the Vikings picked up several young guns during the offseason that have put the pressure on. With Olabisi Johnson showing a lot of potential, Zylstra will need to make a splash against Buffalo if he wants to make the roster.

Ameer Abdullah

When the Vikings signed Abdullah late last year, they still didn’t know what they had in rookie running back Mike Boone. Through the first three preseason games, Boone has protected the ball and made some plays, while Abdullah fumbled once and hasn’t broken loose. Analysts say Boone is a lock to make the roster, but there are questions surrounding Abdullah. If Ameer wants to guarantee a spot in the crowded running back room, he’ll have to protect the ball and take full advantage of tonight’s opportunity.

Ade Aruna

Many fans may not even know of Ade Aruna. The defensive end was a sixth round pick last year, and a torn ACL derailed his rookie season. He’s supposed to be fully recovered, but Aruna hasn’t been talked about much lately and it’ll be an uphill battle to make the roster. With so many exciting defensive lineman fighting for limited spots, he’ll need a heck of a game to convince Mike Zimmer he belongs on the team.

Duke Thomas

Another lesser-known Viking is cornerback Duke Thomas. He’s a third-year player who has bounced around the league a bit, and now he’s trying to stick with the Vikings. With Mike Hughes injured for all of camp, Thomas has seen quite a bit of action during the preseason games. Unfortunately, he’s often been getting attention through penalties, which no coach wants to see. With Hughes still recovering and Holton Hill suspended, the Vikings may opt to start the season with Thomas on the roster. That said, he’ll need a penalty-free game and better technique to earn a coveted roster spot.

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