The Vikings will play their second game of the 2014 preseason tonight when they host the Arizona Cardinals at TCF Bank Stadium. Here are five players to watch in tonight's game as the Vikings take one step closer to the regular season opener.
1. QB Matt CasselCassel entered 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp atop the Vikings quarterback depth chart, and he can take a major step toward remaining there for the start of the 2014 regular season tonight with another solid performance.
2. LB Audie ColeCole did not enter training camp atop the depth chart at any linebacker position, but he's had a solid training camp and he was a standout in the Vikings first preseason game. The Vikings will have a new starting middle linebacker in their base defense this season but who that will be is still undecided. Jasper Brinkley appears to be the leading candidate, but Cole can challenge for the position with another standout performance tonight.
3. S Chris CrockerSigned just a few days before the Vikings preseason opener, Crocker did not play against the Oakland Raiders. The veteran safety, who knows head coach Mike Zimmer's defense well after playing for him in Cincinnati for several seasons, now has his legs underneath him and figures to see plenty of playing time tonight. He has been running with the first team quite a bit in practice and should be considered a strong candidate to start at safety with Harrison Smith if he continues to perform well and Robert Blanton continues to be sidelined with his hamstring injury.
View some of the best black and white images from 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp.
4. OL Austin WentworthThe Vikings appear to be set with their starting five offensive linemen, but everyone knows you need more than five good linemen entering the season. Beyond veteran interior lineman Joe Berger, the Vikings are in the process of finding depth for the offensive line. Wentworth, a 6-5, 303-pound undrafted rookie out of Fresno State, has arguably been the best of the bunch after the starting five. Watch him tonight because a sound performance from him will go a long way toward solidifying a spot on the 53-man roster.
5. P Jeff LockeLocke, selected with a fifth-round pick in last year's draft, came on strongly at the end of his rookie season and has been solid in training camp this summer. His first preseason performance had some good moments, but the second-year punter is more about perfection than he is about "good enough." High hang times, punts inside the 10, no touchbacks, and a low return average for the Cardinals are what you can expect from Locke and the punt team tonight.