Can Ponder Play?
Tonight, the Minnesota Vikings play their final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. After what feels like four scores and three preseason games ago, this lazy debacle will finally wrap up so we can move on to the regular season games and some real NFL football. As a Vikings fan, when I say "real NFL football", I of course am referencing football with Adrian Peterson. That's it. That's all I have to look forward to.
As it is the final game of the regular season, and additional roster cuts are soon on the horizon, it makes sense that the coaching staff is going to put some of the backups and younger guys into the game for extended periods so they can see who they want to keep and who gets cut. That's pretty standard around the NFL in the final preseason game, and I get that. However … Shouldn't Christian Ponder still be playing? I mean … Do we know if we don't just cut him outright yet and decide to just roll with Cassel and MBT? Shouldn't he get more live game experience and practice against another team before the wins and losses (more losses, really) start to matter? And if he's playing against another team's third stringers, and – assuming he does well – wouldn't that be a great boost for his confidence going into the regular season?!
It seems clear to me; Play Ponder tonight for the good of us all. And if he gets hurt? Well, sucks, sorry to hear that, but is there any difference between Ponder being on the field and Ponder being off? Semi-serious question.
Don't Try to Drive Tonight:
Before heading down to this laugh fest at the Metrodome tonight, I would advise you to check your driving routes and plan accordingly. Because based on my sports calendar, we are in for an "Escape from LA" type of Metropolis cluster-f*ck tonight in and around Minneapolis. The Vikings are of course playing at home (7PM) but so are the dumbass Twins on the other side of downtown Minneapolis (7PM), and then the Minnesota Golden Goofers also open their season on the East Bank campus at 6PM, ALL while the Sven's and Ole's of Middle America are waddling their way down to the State Fair for the weekend. Unfortunately, the St. Paul Saints are playing a game Thursday night in Winnipeg, otherwise we'd have the equivalent of a sports lightning strike in the Twin Cities. Regardless, you are officially advised to buy copious amounts of scotch for tonight and not leave your house for any reason. You have been warned.
Earning Dat Paycheck:
OK, so it's the final preseason game of the year, and some roster fat is about to get trimmed and thrown in the skillet. So who are some bros that are sticking around on the team, which may surprise some people? Here are my not-intelligent predictions:
Zach Line: It's silly to say that we need TWO white running backs on this team, but here we are. With Jerome Felton being a team-welfare baby for the next three weeks, I can see Line slipping onto the final roster, with Rhett Ellison being his mentor for the time being. Ellison will then slide over as tight end, and the team only keeps Rudolph and Carlson otherwise. Seems like way too many FBs on the team, but somehow they make it work.
Michael Mauti: This kid impressed me with his robot legs this preseason, that I think it'd be criminal if he didn't make the team. For linebackers, Desmond Bishop finally has turned things around, looking good, so he makes it. Hodges was drafted high enough he's probably safe. Marvin Mitchell has shown great flashes and makes it on special teams, probably. I'd like to think Audie Cole is a shoe-in, but he's looked slow in the preseason. Could be the perfect opportunity for Mauti to slip in. If we don't take him and try to sneak him on a practice squad, someone else will nab him.
Bobby Felder: Between his impressive play at corner and his versatility as a returner, Felder has shown he belongs on the final squad. I'd guess Brandon Burton will be kindly shown the door, and Sherels might too, if the numbers don't work out. Surprisingly though, the team doesn't have a ton of quality depth at CB, so it's almost guaranteed a decent guy like Felder makes it. What, are we going to keep throwing AJ Jefferson out there?
Saying Awkward Goodbyes:
So if those guys are staying, who is leaving the team? I'm taking a shot in the dark here, but if any of these turn out to be right, I totally get to drop "Told ya so's." It will be glorious:
Joe Webb: So he caught a touchdown in the third game of the preseason. That's literally been the only thing he's done all camp. And enough with this "emergency 3rd QB" talk. You want to throw Joe Webb back out there? We already know what he can do as a quarterback, and it equates to moth's in pockets. Also, if he was really going to be your emergency QB, wouldn't you still be trying to get him some snaps to keep him fresh? He hasn't seen a single one this preseason, anywhere. Joe's gotta go.
Larry Dean: As stated above, Dean may be on the cusp of not making the team based on numbers and youth alone. Not like he's old (only into his 3rd year), but there are others with a greater ceiling in front of him probably. I like him though, we'll just see if I'm stupid and wrong.
Robert Blanton: Former 5th round pick may be the odd man out here as the other players at safety have all slowly made names for themselves. Surprisingly, Jamarca Sanford may be the other starter opposite Harrison Smith, and Mistral Raymond and Andrew Sendejo have both experience and/or special teams value greater than Blanton. Raymond could be out the door, too, or rather, instead of Blanton, but definitely one of those guys goes while the white safety stays. We need more slow, scrappy, white safeties! Said Brian Russell.
Meme of the Week:
More 60s Spider-Man Meme this week. I wanted to reflect the likely disappointment shown by the players who will be cut, as they probably will feel like it was totally unfair, that there was some stupid former 2nd round white running back pick that made the team over them instead, and generally get the pouts. So, here we are, with Spider-Man also feeling like everything is total bullshit. Don't worry guys, you'll catch on to a team with a quarterback, I promise!
Scotch of the Week:
This week, we take a look at the GlenDronach 12 Year Single Malt. This one is interesting to me because I've heard lots about GlenDronach's in general, but don't know if I had ever tried one. It apparently gets rated as a "Must Have!" in your scotch collection. But "Must Haves!" are also considered Super Bowl rings, and we've seen how that works out for us. The 12 year here though is strong on the sherry aging, giving it a meaty, dark plum nose to it, akin to glazed short ribs, which is AMAZING. It's medium bodied, not too heavy, and will hit you with a bit of cherry and rye spiciness. A bit more of that tangy BBQ sauce will find it's way to you as well. Not a long laster (where have I heard that before, amirite guys?!), but leaves a bit of a burnt sugar note on the tongue. Better chase it with more scotch.
Shirtless Viking of the Week:
We had a submission this last week, not necessarily of any Shirtless Viking that we didn't already have (There are Shirtless Harrison Smith photos, and they are FABULOUS), but shots of his butt, apparently. Women, I guess, are into that thing. Which makes sense, because dudes like a nice butt on a woman too. And frankly, until I saw the picture above, I never noticed how ballooned Smith's butt is. It's like a perfect half circle. That's amazing. I bet he could use it like a rocking chair. That's what people do with nice butts, right? I don't know what I'm talking about anymore.
Final Preseason Predictions:
It doesn't matter, we'll probably lose. I'm shooting for us to lose, because I would love to see us go 0-4 in the preseason and have rubes tell smart Vikings fans how much that statistic means absolutely nothing. Then they'll mention the 4-0 Lions in the preseason who went 0-16 in the regular season, and never mention another preseason/regular season record again, because they've never thought about it beyond needing to make themselves feel good about their own team.
Listen, guys … Girls … There is no other way to cut it here. Our team has some serious question marks going into the regular season. I don't feel good about a playoff run of any kind, and if you do, than you should illegally be selling whatever makes you feel that way. The preseason is supposed to be a time where questions get answered, not where more questions come up. But for the Vikings? C'est la vie. We will move on and hope that a quarterback is just DYING to playing with Peterson. Think Brett Favre wants to come back yet?
Enjoy the game and a huge sports weekend folks. Game thread tonight, recap of some sorts on Friday.