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NFL Preseason Preview: Minnesota at Dallas

Minnesota VikingsJason Garrett doesn’t usually show a lot of what his Dallas Cowboys can do in the preseason.

In 2014, the ‘Boys didn’t win a single preseason game, but then they went on to win 12 games – and a playoff game – during the subsequent season. The emphasis was on evaluating the lower tiers of the depth chart and keeping regular players healthy.

Meanwhile, the Vikings have been steamrolling opponents through the first three preseason games. His first year in the NFL showed a lot of promise, but now that he has Adrian Peterson carrying the ball (plus the benefit of that year of experience), he should have an even better year – one that could propel the Vikings to a wild card spot in the playoffs, if not the NFC North championship.

So as the Vikings head to Dallas for a preseason tilt at AT&T Stadium, Bridgewater is definitely a player to watch. However, the Vikings’ faithful will also be looking at linebacker Eric Kendricks. This rookie has been a sensation during the first two weeks, making plays all over the football field. The Vikings have been looking for a new starting middle linebacker, and if he can have a strong game in Dallas, he’ll go a long way toward winning that job for himself.

There is also some fighting for roster spots among the Vikings’ wide receiver corps. Jarius Wright, Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson look like they have the first three spots salted away. That leaves Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Coradarrelle Patterson fighting over a roster position – and looking to impress coaches from other teams who may be looking to pick up a receiver to shore up their own offense should the Vikings cut them.

And what about the Cowboys? The biggest need is to figure out who will start at cornerback now that Orlando Scandrick blew out an ACL and MCL in practice, of all places. Some people think that much ballyhooed LSU phenom Morris Claiborne can step in, but he really hasn’t done all that much for the club since they drafted him. Byron Jones could step in and fill those shoes, but it could also be someone else.

The Cowboys also still need to pick a starting tailback. Darren McFadden has been listed as the starter, but he didn’t play until last week thanks to another of his many hamstring issues. He picked up four yards on three carries. Joseph Randle has shown that he has more speed than McFadden, but he needs to show some more consistency if he is going to start.

A promising rookie in the Cowboys’ camp is Randy Gregory, who wants to start at defensive end, at least until Greg Hardy’s suspension is over. Gregory has shown a propensity to be a “feast or famine” sort of performer. The Cowboys need to see some more feasting, particularly given the shaky status of the Vikings’ offensive line.

Somewhere out of all this mess, of course, one team will beat the other. But the lessons teams pick up from the postseason are often far more important than the final score.

 

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