There are a number of factors to watch in Sunday night's Border Battle game, including the matchup between Green Bay's offense and Minnesota's defense.
NFL.com's Shaun O'Hara included the Packers in a list of five offensive lines to pay attention to in Week 2. O'Hara referred back to Green Bay's narrow victory at Jacksonville last week when the Packers were one of six teams (in addition to the Browns, Bills, Bears, Dolphins and Rams) to gain fewer than 300 yards.
In Week 1, the Vikings defense limited the Titans to 2.9 yards per carry. The unit also finished with two sacks and three forced turnovers, two for scores. O'Hara said Sunday's game will prove to be "another test" for the Packers offensive line. O'Hara wrote:
Green Bay's Lane Taylor will make his second start at left guard in place of Josh Sitton and will have a challenging matchup against Linval Joseph, arguably one of the toughest tackles in the league.
The Vikings undoubtedly will bring their A-game for the opening of their new home, U.S. Bank Stadium. It's going to be extremely loud and a tough atmosphere to play in for the Packers. I played in the old Metrodome, and when we watched film in preparation for the game, the camera shook when it was a third-down play. That's how loud it got in there. I'd expect the same commotion from the fans this weekend.
Sam Bradford continues learning on the fly
As the Vikings have been preparing this week to face the Packers, quarterback Sam Bradford has not only worked to study Green Bay's defense but also to continue increasing his comfortability with Minnesota's playbook.
USA TODAY's Tom Pelissero zeroed in on Bradford's preparation process this week.
"As you're learning the game plan, he's also learning the foundation (of the offense)," Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner told Pelissero. "I would spend a lot of extra time with him explaining to him exactly what everything was in detail so he understood, 'Hey, why do we call this this? What's our read on this? What's our drop on this?' And then if you learn it by concept, it can carry over into different plays or different weeks or different formations with the same play."
Walkthroughs provide the visual, but not the timing. Throwing against air helps, but it's nothing like working against a defense. So in Bradford's situation, Turner acknowledges, "You've got to run the plays the way that they're drawn up."
Kyle Rudolph said there are a number of nuances within the Vikings offense.
"Not only knowing what a guy has on what play but trusting that that guy is going to win and be in the spot for you – that's stuff that you develop over the course of years, and we're trying to do it over a couple weeks."
This week, all the quarterbacks have been coming early for extra meetings, Turner said. They started at 7 a.m. Thursday, breaking down the Packers' third-down defense, and Bradford's work wasn't expected to be done until well into the evening, after coaches had finalized the red-zone plan they'll practice Friday.
"To his credit, too, he's a really smart guy and he's caught on fast," Turner told Pelissero. "He's spent the extra time. You can tell he's constantly looking at it even when he's not here. And you listen to him call the plays — you'd think he'd been here forever."
Blair Walsh receiving support from Minnesota United FC
The Vikings have gained a new fan in Minnesota United FC winger Danny Cruz. He's been following Minnesota since moving to the Twin Cities and wants to show Blair Walsh his support.
According to Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press, Cruz met Walsh through punter Jeff Locke. When Walsh missed a pair of field goals (37 and 56 yards) and a PAT at Tennessee last week, Cruz felt for him. But he also believed Walsh would rebound, which he did through four successful field goals to help the Vikings come away with a win.
Cruz tweeted his support during the game and said he can relate to Walsh's experience.
Last season with a FK Bodo/Glimt in Norway, Cruz missed a penalty kick in a cup match.
"It was a big deal, but I finished the game," Cruz told Greder. "You just fight through it the same way that (Walsh) did. I think those are some of the best players in the world, the ones that are able to do that."