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The Skinny Post: Vikings Back in Seattle for Preseason Play

The Vikings are in a familiar spot in Week 2 of a preseason, the same place they were in during Week 2 of the 2016 preseason.

The Vikings are in Seattle for the second straight year, and will take on the Seahawks on Friday at 9 p.m. (CT) at CenturyLink Field.

Minnesota went 8-8 in 2016 and missed the postseason while Seattle won the NFC West with a 10-5-1 mark.

Here are three areas to watch in tonight's preseason opener, plus some noteworthy stats on both teams:

Backup QBs | By@pcraigers

Head Coach Mike Zimmer turned heads last season when he opted to start veteran Shaun Hill instead of Teddy Bridgewater at Seattle. The move turned out to be prescient when Hill was needed to start in place of Bridgewater in Week 1 before Sam Bradford took the reins for the final 15 games of the regular season.

Now, Bradford is the starter, Bridgewater is on the mend and the other two Vikings quarterbacks are Case Keenum and Taylor Heinicke.

Bradford was 5-of-7 passing for 35 yards but was sacked twice in limited action at Buffalo last week. Keenum was fairly sharp with an 11-of-16 performance for 121 yards and led a touchdown against the Bills. Heinicke, who was playing in a game for the first time since the 2015 preseason, was 3-for-8 passing for 20 yards that included a 2-yard touchdown toss and an interception.

It will be interesting to see what Zimmer opts to do with reps for quarterbacks tonight.

Looking at the linebackers | By@EricLSmith

The Vikings are set at two of their starting linebacker spots, as former UCLA teammates Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks have established themselves as reliable playmakers on defense.

But the weakside spot in the Vikings base scheme is up for grabs, and a handful of players are vying for the job. Edmond Robinson and Emmanuel Lamur have taken first-team reps throughout training camp, but rookie Ben Gedeon has also been in the mix as well.

Behind them, a bevy of young linebackers are trying to make an impression on the coaching staff.

Undrafted free agent Eric Wilson had a strong debut in Buffalo, while seventh-round rookie Elijah Lee is also fighting for playing time. With Kentrell Brothers on the mend from a hamstring injury, Noor Davis and Darnell Sankey could also get an extended look tonight in the Pacific Northwest.

Shuffling the deck | By@LindseyMNSports

The Vikings in their first preseason outing used a variety of offensive line combinations, starting Rashod Hill (LT), Alex Boone (LG), Nick Easton (C), Joe Berger (RG) and Mike Remmers (RT). A number of rotations were made throughout the night to shuffle the arrangement, including sliding Easton to guard while rookie Pat Elflein played a solid chunk of time at center.

Easton and Elflein have played a lot at guard and center, respectively, as Boone has missed practice this week due to injury. Hill has been filling in for left tackle Riley Reiff, who hasn't yet returned to full-contact drills in practice, since July 27. It will be interesting to see if Minnesota uses the Hill-Easton-Elflein-Berger-Remmers combo to start tonight's game.

Zimmer told Twin Cities media members on Tuesday that he's "getting close" to solidifying the interior of the offensive line.

"I think this week will be a good tell-tale of some of the things we're trying to do," Zimmer said. "It'll be good competition. We may have some guys in some different spots this week and see how it goes."

Hill, Jeremiah Sirles (LG), Zac Kerin (C), Danny Isidora (RG), and Willie Beavers (RT) lined up with the second team in Wednesday's practice, while T.J. Clemmings (LG) transitioned to the third group. Aviante Collins (LT), Austin Shepherd (RG) and Reid Fragel (RT) also will likely see time at Seattle as the Vikings coaching staff continues its assessment.

Substantial Stats 

— Vikings cornerback Marcus Sherels broke a fourth-quarter tie in Seattle of Week 2 of the 2016 preseason when he returned an interception 53 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

— The Seahawks defense has finished in the top 10 in points allowed per game every season since 2011, including a four-year run in the top spot from 2012-2015. 

— Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is 13-1 in his career in the preseason.

—Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked 41 times in 2016, the second-most of any quarterback in the NFL. The defensive end trio of Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen and Brian Robison combined for 28 sacks for the Vikings.

Quotable

"I always like playing somewhere in the preseason and on that road that is going to be loud. It's more like a true in-season game atmosphere, so I think that will be good." — Zimmer on getting ready for a raucous crowd at CenturyLink Field.

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