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W2W4: Minnesota Vikings

8/22/2014

The Minnesota Vikings (2-0) and Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) meet for their third preseason game on Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium:

  • Final auditions at QB: We think the signs are clear that Matt Cassel will be the Vikings' starting quarterback at the start of the regular season. Though the Vikings haven't made it official yet, they've been operating that way since the start of training camp. But if Teddy Bridgewater wants to make one more push for the starting job as a rookie, he'll get his shot Saturday night. Coach Mike Zimmer wouldn't divulge his plan for the quarterbacks this week, other than to say Bridgewater could get some time with the first team. Cassel, though, said he expects to play quite a bit on Saturday, which could mean Bridgewater takes over for him in the third quarter and gets a few series with the first team before finishing his night with the Vikings' backups. At the very least, the rookie will have a chance to build on his impressive game last Saturday against Arizona, and could see a step up in competition if he gets some time against the Chiefs' top defense.

  • Patterson returns on kickoffs: This being the de facto dress rehearsal for the regular season, we'll see the Vikings start to operate on Saturday night in a manner more consistent with what they'll do when things count. That means the team plans for Cordarrelle Patterson to return a kickoff or two this week. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said he doesn't need to see anything in particular from the All-Pro return man, but wants to give Patterson a chance to get a couple returns before the start of the season. He said he hopes the Vikings won't have to back Patterson off at all from kick returns as he takes on a bigger role in the offense -- instead suggesting the Vikings treat the kickoff return as a first-down play and adjust Patterson's snaps from scrimmage accordingly, as they did with Percy Harvin -- and Saturday will allow the Vikings to test their plans to balance Patterson's workload, too.

  • Rebound for Rhodes: Last Saturday's game was a tough one for second-year cornerback Xavier Rhodes, whose missed tackle turned a screen pass into a 51-yard gain for Jaron Brown and who mistimed his leap on a 35-yard pass to Brown in the second quarter. Rhodes is expected to be the Vikings' top cover corner this year, and Zimmer has been coaching him hard throughout camp, at one point realizing he needed to be a little softer, as he put it, on the second-year corner. But as much as the Vikings are putting on Rhodes this year, it would be good for him to rebound with a solid showing (albeit against a less prolific offense than Arizona's) on Saturday night.