Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vikings vs. Titans Preview

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The Vikings will travel to Tennessee as they square off with the Titans in the final preseason contest of the season. This will be the last chance for fringe roster players to prove they are worthy enough to remain on the roster. Daniel House discusses the areas to watch for as the Vikings close out the exhibition slate. 

Updated: September 2nd, 2015 10:15am

By: Daniel House

The Vikings will travel to Tennessee as they square off with the Titans in the final preseason contest of the season. This will be the last chance for fringe roster players to prove they are worthy enough to remain on the roster. All NFL teams are required to trim their rosters by 2 p.m. CT on Saturday. With that being said, one performance by a player on the bubble could be enough for them to latch onto the active 53-man squad. It is unclear whether the starters will see any time in this game, but Mike Zimmer said this week that 'the guys that need to play will be out there.' If tradition is followed, the starters won't play and those who are battling for a roster spot will be on the field for the vast majority of the game.

The third quarterback spot -- has Heinicke done enough?

Taylor Heinicke will have his final chance to audition for a roster spot. He will see extended action in a game that will most likely feature a limited amount of starters. The coaches have a very difficult decision to make about whether they can keep him on the 53-man roster. With other deep position groups, the team might have to place him on the practice squad. However, that leaves him susceptible to being snatched by another team on waivers. This will be the final showcase for Heinicke and if he flashes, the front office might be forced to keep him on the 53-man roster. With Jabari Price facing suspension, they could keep Heinicke on the active roster and slide him onto the practice squad when Price returns. By doing this, other team's roster will likely be set and he is less likely to be wanted by other teams in the league.

Who will get the edge in a deep linebacker group?

The Vikings have some decisions to make when it comes to the final linebacker spots. Mike Mauti, Brandon Watts, Brian Peters, and Edmond Robinson will all be battling for the last two or three roster spots. Mauti has been a major contributor on special teams, but hasn't been an asset as a linebacker in this system. Watts finally showed some durability and proved he has superior athleticism to contribute towards this roster. Peters could be slid onto the practice squad and that would leave room for another linebacker to stay with the team. The Vikings drafted Edmond Robinson in the seventh round and love his size. He has the athleticism and versatility to be an excellent fit in Mike Zimmer's defensive scheme. Robinson could be snatched by another team off the practice squad, so the coaches might be forced to save a roster spot for him. With all of that being said, the race is extremely close and this will be the last chance they will have to prove they are worthy of a spot on this roster.

The punt return battle comes to a close

Many people are clamoring for Marcus Sherels to be released from the team. Having Stefon Diggs makes people think that he is expendable. It's clear Sherels has been seeing the majority of the reps in the last few games. However, that might not mean anything. This is the final chance for Sherels and Diggs to battle for the starting punt return job. If it comes down to Sherels' overall value at cornerback, he could be on the outside looking in. I'm still of the opinion Sherels, will remain on the team for the first few weeks. This could change when Jabari Price returns and one player needs to be released to make room for him. All of the punt returns in the Titans game will provide one more chance for us to see how the reps are divided between Sherels and Diggs.

What fringe player will do enough to earn a spot on the roster?

There always is one or two players that pave their way onto the roster after a fantastic performance in the final preseason game. Two guys I will be keeping an eye on are Chase Ford and Dominique Williams. In exhibition games, each of them have been really making a case to remain on the roster. With limited space, it will be very difficult for either of them to latch on. That's not to say one more good performance couldn't push them back into the conversation. Ford would add value and depth to the tight end group, while Williams can provide a change of pace in the backfield.

Will we see more consistency from Walsh?

Blair Walsh has been inconsistent in the preseason and missed another field goal try last week. He is pushing the kicks and doesn't have any confidence right now. That can change with a solid performance in his final tune-up before the regular season begins. In the NFL, a missed kick can be the difference between a win and a loss. It will be vital for Walsh to perform well if the Vikings want to win football games and be successful this season.

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