3 Things To Watch For in The Minnesota vs. Denver Preseason Game

As hard as it is to believe, the Minnesota vs Denver preseason game is happening tomorrow. We’re therefore offering up a humble list of three things fans can watch for. By no means should readers take this list as one that’s exhaustive. The true list of things to watch for is far too long for our purposes today. Instead, I’m merely pointing to the 3 things I’m most intrigued by as our Vikes finish up training camp and transition to the preseason.

1) How Does Oli Udoh Do In Pass Protection?

The offensive line is a continual concern for us purple fans, so why should this season be any different? After some premature hope from the Darrisaw & Davis picks, we’ve come crashing down to earth. The o-line, at least at this point, looks like it’ll struggle to get to average.

One of the few bright spots has been the emergence of Oli Udoh at RG. Everything that I’ve read suggests he’s the one leading the RG competition. Here is what Will Ragatz had to say following the second Denver practice: “The third-year converted tackle was one of the biggest breakout stars of this year’s camp, along with K.J. Osborn and Browning. His combination of size, strength, and athleticism appear to translate very nicely at guard. All camp long, Udoh made things happen in the run game, pass protected well, and won most of his 1-on-1s.”

When Minnesota takes on Denver in the first preseason game of the year, I’m looking to see Udoh further solidify his stranglehold on the starting RG job. Before traning camp began, I predicted that someone would win the RG job other than Wyatt Davis. Admittedly, I wouldn’t have chosen Udoh at that moment, though it’s looking like the overall prediction is becoming a reality.

Of course, solid practices don’t matter nearly as much as games, so let’s see what Udoh can do on Saturday.

2) Can A Young DE Generate Pressure?

We all know Danielle Hunter is going to be a real problem for the opposition’s offense. From there, we can be reasonably certain that Minnesota’s DTs will present some legitimate issues. What happens, though, if one of the young DEs really emerges? That d-line would be ferocious.

When I think of Minnesota’s young defensive ends, I think of D.J. Wonnum, Janarius Robinson, and Patrick Jones. Maybe I should also be including Kenny Willekes, but it’s tough to envision a scenario where he gets onto the field (other than specials, perhaps). Now, anyone who reads this site knows that I like both Jalyn Holmes and Stephen Weatherly, both of whom can be reasonable options on early downs. On third and long, though, I’m hoping Minnesota can get some help from their young guns.

I’m most excited about Wonnum simply because I’ve already seen some flashes. The sophomore DE has come back physically stronger than last year, so the hope is that he’ll translate that added muscle to more consistent pressure. I, for one, will be very pleased if he gets after Aaron “Voldemort” Rodgers early and often.

3) Will Greg Joseph Hit His Kicks?

Forgive me if I’m still a little hesitant with the Vikings kicking situation; I’ve been hurt many times.

Tomorrow, I’m looking to see Joseph put my concerns to bed by nailing all his kicks in the Minnesota vs. Denver preseason game. Will my confidence last? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be thrilled if Joseph has an excellent game. We really need some stability here.

Andrew Krammer recently reported that Joseph had a strong first practice against Denver: “Joseph made all six field goal attempts against the Broncos, including five straight during a field goal period. His current competition, undrafted rookie Riley Patterson, has attempted only a handful of field goals since returning from the foot injury that had him on the physically unable to perform list to start camp.”

Alas, the games are what matter.

As we noted in the special teams prediction piece, Joseph has at least some history of performing well in actual NFL games. He’s gone 17/20 on kicks in his NFL career, with his long being from 51 yards. That’s an 85% average. Joseph has gone 34/38 for XPs in his career, a 89.5% average. For reference, Dan Bailey had a 68.2 FG % and 86 XP % last season.

Minnesota Denver Preseason Game

As I originally suggested over at Purple Pain Forums on this topic, I’m hoping to see three things: Udoh pass pro, young DE pressure, and solid kicking. I’ll be a happy Vikings fan if those things happen.

What say you, valued reader? What are you looking to see in the first preseason game for our Vikings? Let me know down in the comments or on social media.

Enjoy the game and be sure to swing by TVG for an analysis of the results! Skol.