10 Storylines for Vikings 1st Preseason Game
The Minnesota Vikings journey to Seattle on Thursday night for a preseason date with the Seahawks, the first such event of the year for both teams.
The Vikings roster is starting to take shape, and the preseason showdown will help determine roster battles and positioning.
10 Storylines for Vikings 1st Preseason Game
Here are VikingsTerritory writers’ top 10 storylines for that contest.
1. The Kicker Battle
VT Writer: Dustin Baker
Vikings special teams coordinator Matt Daniels told reporters at the start of training camp about the kicker job, “It is a kicking competition.”
There is no interpretive flair to be gleaned from the comment — there’s a kicker battle.
“Last year, we had Jordan Berry, we had Mr. Wright. It was a punting competition. This year, we have Greg Joseph and Jack Podlesny, and it’s a kicking competition. The goal is — we’re looking to compete at every single aspect, every single level of every single position. It is a kicking competition between those two,” Daniels elaborated.
And last year, Wright won the battle; Jordan Berry did not.
Jack Podlesny could actually oust Joseph from his job — after Joseph drilled five game-winning field goals in 2022. Wild.
2. Roster Hierarchy
VT Writer: Sean Borman
I’ll be monitoring the hierarchy of a few position groups like cornerback, running back, EDGE rusher, and wide receiver. There are some roster spots at play here, and you know O’Connell and the coaching staff will give the youngsters chances to play. It’s up to those currently penciled in to prove they belong on this team.
Also, I’m very interested to see how Jaren Hall performs.
3. Bring Us an Ivan Pace Jr.
VT Writer: Janik Eckardt
Can Pace Jr. prove in live game reps that his camp stardom will last — or was it just a mirage caused by training camp conditions? If he can do it against the Seahawks, with the full contact of an NFL game, the remaining size concerns will disappear.
4. What Does the Offensive Line Look Like?
VT Writer: Josh Frey
The first depth chart threw us for a bit of a loop, seeing Blake Brandel listed at guard. Will he actually take snaps on the interior, and if so, how does Vederian Lowe hold up at tackle against better competition?
The Vikings still have a few lingering injuries on their offensive line, so the young guys need to be able to step in if they get the call.
5. Offensive Guard Play
VT Writer: Wes Johnson
It’s no secret that the Vikings have been searching for at least average guard play since HOF Steve Hutchinson’s departure — the closest being Joe Berger, whose tenure ended in 2017.
Enter the 2023 season, and the Vikings return 2022’s starters Ezra Cleveland and Ed Ingram. The two have been lackluster, to say the least, and there is hope that continued continuity at the position and their battery mates will help solidify the unit. But make no mistake, the Vikings won’t sit by idly and let this position be an eyesore.
The Vikings brought in FA guard Dalton Risner for a visit recently, and any slip-up or uninspiring play from the incumbents could lead to signing the free-agent market’s top guard. This is a position to watch closely.
6. Jaren Hall’s Poise
VT Writer: Kyle Joudry
This could go in many directions. I think one thing I’d really like to see is a poised Jaren Hall. Does he appear skittish when things get a bit messy up front? Does he bail too early and try to pick something up with his legs? It would be pretty encouraging to see a calm, cool, collected passer, especially since he’s already a bit older.
7. RB Life without Dalvin Cook
VT Writer: Nate Powalie
It’s how the backfield will adjust without Dalvin Cook. Sure, it might only be the first preseason game, but it’s still a proving ground. We know Alexander Mattison will probably be No. 1 on the depth chart, with Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler at two and three, respectively.
But Seattle is a harsh road environment to play. If the Vikings can maintain a steady ground game, it should set the tone for a proficient rush attack in September.
8. The RBs, On the Whole
VT Writer: Ted Schwerzler
Assuming Alexander Mattison won’t play, how split is the run between Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler? Where does DeWayne McBride fit in?
9. Does Jordan Addison Live up to Hype?
VT Writer: Ali Siddiqui
We still have a month before the regular season starts, but we get to see Jordan Addison in live game action. Sure, the preseason is not the same as the regular season, but we still get to see him in a game for the first time. He’s looked terrific at camp.
It will be very interesting to see how he does in his first-ever NFL game — even though it is ‘only preseason.’
10. Rookie Playing Time
VT Writer: Cole Smith
For a higher pick like Jordan Addison, less playing time, or none at all, could speak volumes about how much the coaches trust that he knows the system.
For guys like undrafted free agent Ivan Pace, Jr., a lot of playing time, and when those snaps come (the earlier in the game, the better), we could see just how close he is to securing a spot on the 53-man roster.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).