Here are some things I hope transpire tomorrow night at home against the Oakland Raiders. It's the first preseason game, and those super into it like me are excited because the "construction of the dream" is underway:
-- Stay healthy. Obvious as it may be the speed, hitting and intensity tomorrow night is the first time players will be experiencing it in months. In 2006 CHAD GREENWAY lost his entire season to an ACL on the opening kickoff of the preseason. In Minneapolis. Against the Raiders. Diseased. Knocked on wood.
We have several members of the secondary nursing injuries, and if none of them play I totally am fine. I want to see some smacks but nothing that costs players the preseason or more.
I mean nobody, too. From a starter to the last guy on the roster let's exit this bad boy in good shape and head back to 'FANkato in one piece.
-- Play the starters the entire first quarter. That goes for offense and defense. Maybe run veterans like Greenway, JENNINGS, SULLIVAN, LOADHOLT, ROBISON and JOSEPH a series or two then stash them away, but let's find cohesion with this new product. Offense and defense are new and it behooves the Vikings to milk as much out of this preseason with players who matter as they can.
-- The quarterbacks - have CASSEL play the first two series and roll with TEDDY after that and up to halftime. Bridgewater has worked with the second team a fair amount this training camp and seems comfortable with that unit. I, however, do want him to get a series with most or all of the starting OL, RUDOLPH, ASIATA, MCKINNON, WRIGHT and PATTERSON.
-- Skip some long field-goal tries and go for it on fourth down. Get this offense as many reps as possible. Try an on-side kick. Go for two-point conversions. Put on tape a team that is not afraid to try anything and at anytime.
-- The defense. MIKE ZIMMER is attack-first and aggressive. I am not a fan of "vanilla" in the preseason then unfurling the rock-star plays at St. Louis and expecting them to be crisp. Run some a-list blitzes on third-and-long, watch them back on tape and perfect them. We are not in a position to walk up to the season-opening game, we have to sprint and mesh in a hurry because all of it is so new.