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Lunchbreak: Has Eye on Trenches in Vikings-Chiefs Preseason Finale

The preseason finale is here, as the Vikings will take on the Chiefs at 7 tonight at Arrowhead Stadium.

With the starters from both teams expected to play at least a quarter or so in Kansas City, both Minnesota and Kansas City should get some solid work in the final preseason game.

But Chase Goodbread will have his eye on one specific area, as the writer recently noted that he wants to see how each side does in the trenches.

For the Vikings, that means Goodbread wants to see how Everson Griffen looks if he gets in for a few plays against the Chiefs. The Vikings brought back the longtime defensive end earlier this week.

Goodbread wrote:

How much does Everson Griffen have left in a 33-year-old tank, and will there be any visible rust from spending an offseason as a free agent? After splitting 2020 between the Cowboys and Lions, he's back with the Vikings upon agreeing to a deal this week with the club that sent him to four Pro Bowls. Coach Mike Zimmer said the pass rusher will be a situational player.

Griffen, a four-time Pro Bowler, ranks seventh in franchise history with 74.5 career sacks. He also added 93 tackles for loss, nine forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and two interceptions in 174 career regular-season games in Purple from 2010-19.

Goodbread is also looking at the Vikings offensive line and how that unit fares against a Kansas City defensive front that has looked stout in preseason play.

Goodbread wrote:

The Chiefs defensive line is looking scary good. Even without Frank Clark, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, the starting unit maintained tight-fisted control of the line of scrimmage last week in a first half of action. Chris Jones logged a sack, as did free-agent signee Jarran Reed. The Vikings starting offensive line, which also played the first half a week ago, will have its collective hands full if starters on both sides start again.

The Chiefs dominated the Cardinals in a battle of first-teamers last weekend in Arizona.

Kansas City forced Arizona's starting offense to go three-and-out on each possession, with the Cardinals generating minus-1 yard of offense before the first unit came out of the game.

Rookie TE Davidson returns to familiar venue

Zach Davidson has a chance to make one final impression tonight in his bid to make the Vikings final roster.

The 2021 fifth-round pick and native of Webb, City, Missouri, will do so in a stadium he's actually played in before.

Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press recently caught up with Davidson to chat about his excitement for the game and his previous experience at Arrowhead Stadium.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.

Tomasson wrote:

It's the third and final exhibition for the Vikings, and it will be an important one for the raw rookie, who is locked in a battle to make the 53-man roster as the third tight end behind starter Irv Smith, Jr., and backup Tyler Conklin. Davidson will have his share of support at the game, with about 15 family members scheduled to drive up from Webb City, population 11,721.

"It's another opportunity to prove myself on the field and get some good stuff on tape and just keep learning, and the fact of it being close to home, it will be good to have some familiar faces in the stands and be able to play in front of the ones I love," said Davidson, 23. "It's a good supporting cast, so I look forward to it."

At age 8, Davidson was in the stands for his first and only in-person Chiefs game at Arrowhead, watching them lose 20-10 to the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 10, 2006. Years later, he returned to the stadium twice to play college games against Northwest Missouri State, when he served as Central Missouri's punter.

Tomasson also highlighted Davidson's unique journey to Minnesota, which has included playing both tight end and punter in college.

Davidson developed into a Division II All-American punter for the Mules but didn't get a chance to play tight end until he was a redshirt sophomore in 2018, catching a modest 11 passes for 239 yards that season. He broke loose in 2019 with 40 catches for 894 yards and 15 touchdowns. And when the 2020 season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, he opted to enter the NFL draft.

"It's been a learning experience the whole way, and just being able to get the opportunity in college and be able to grow and put myself in a situation here, it's a blessing," said Davidson, who said the Vikings haven't asked him to do any punting yet. "It's all happened so fast, but I'm trying to take it as slow as possible. I know that I'm just scratching the surface on talent and just knowledge of the game."

Tomasson's full feature on Davidson can be found here.