The Top 6 Vikings to Watch in Preseason Opener

The Big Stuff
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The Minnesota Vikings are preparing for their regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Part of that preparation is training camp that has been ongoing for a couple of weeks and the preseason. The first mock game will occur on Thursday when the Vikings face the Seattle Seahawks exactly one month ahead of Week 1.

The Top 6 Vikings to Watch in Preseason Opener

Training camp and the preseason determine the players’ future regarding starting jobs, roles on their units, and roster spots. While there are many intriguing players, these six are the most exciting.

Jordan Addison

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The first time fans will see him in a purple uniform, Jordan Addison can put his talent on display and show why he was a first-round pick. He is drawing exclusively positive reviews from training camp, and his natural ability to get open should translate to the NFL.

However, there are still some concerns that he is too light to be effective in the NFL, and with the added physicality of real game action, he can prove those doubters wrong. Many starters from both teams will be rested, so he can put on a show against backups and fellow rookies. Kevin O’Connell confirmed that he will play.

Lewis Cine

Another first-rounder but with the polar opposite of a career start. Safety Lewis Cine missed most of his rookie season injured. Now fully healthy, he is scrimmaging with the second-team defense and doesn’t appear to be any closer to becoming a starter.

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A strong showing in the preseason could help his stock, and the strepitant screams that already call him bust would calm down at least for some time. He has the talent to be an exciting player, but his injury slowed down his development. While already in his second year, Cine is still kind of a rookie that needs more developmental time. Things to watch are if he can read things fast enough to react to them and use his athleticism to make the plays.

Ivan Pace

He is the sensation in training camp. The undersized linebacker is showing that the league made a huge mistake in letting 259 picks pass without selecting the Cincinnati product. Pace’s lack of size has been the concern, but he is still wrecking training camp.

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But what happens when guards put their hands on him and are allowed to play physically, especially compared to practices with teammates? Pace has been running with the second team and partially even with the first team, so he should get a decent amount of snaps. Can he live in the backfield and continue to be the absolute superstar he has been all camp? Pace is also Harrison Smith’s guy to watch.

Brandon Powell

Minnesota’s punt returners have quietly been a disaster for quite a while now, and the 27-year-old is the best possible way to fix it this year with the experience of 49 punt returns in the NFL, including one fatal touchdown against the Vikings in 2021, basically ending the tenure of Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman with one play.

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He has also looked like a possible contributor on offense and might be an upgrade over Jalen Reagor in both phases of the game. Reagor is another potential candidate to be listed here. The two will go head-to-head in the next few weeks on offense and on special teams to determine the punt returner and the fifth receiver on the roster.

Jaren Hall

This one is an absolute no-brainer. Jaren Hall was drafted in the fifth round, and nobody will turn in to watch Nick Mullens throw the ball, although he is probably the better player at the moment. Folks want to watch Hall’s Vikings debut and evaluate if he could be the franchise’s future.

Main Reason to Watch
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Of course, that is a long shot for a fifth-rounder, but crazier things have happened. Brock Purdy, a seventh-rounder, is starting for the 49ers, and fifth-rounder Sam Howell is QB1 in Washington. Nobody should expect his first NFL performance to be flawless, even against the backups of the backups, but showing confidence and making a couple of splashy plays to show his upside would go a long way.

DeWayne McBride

An unbelievably productive college runner, DeWayne McBride has a big opportunity to carve out a significant role without Dalvin Cook in the mix. Late-round running backs turn into solid players regularly, and McBride could be the next in line.

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He didn’t do much as a pass-catcher in college, but it is a necessary skill in the NFL. Catching a couple of checkdowns or screens while showcasing his violent running style could change how his coaching staff and the fans view the running back room with Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu currently listed ahead of him on the depth chart.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt