The 2014 preseason is nearly complete, with all NFL teams scheduled to play their fourth and final exhibition contest on Thursday night. Whether you're one who enjoys preseason games and the slow build up to the regular season or you're one who would rather see fewer preseason contests, many pay little mind to the final exhibition and instead spend their energy anticipating the regular season opener.
Not Norv Turner.
"People think it's a throw-away game. This is probably the most important preseason game there is," Turner said. "These young guys get a chance to go play and get to show what they've been working on. Every year it seems to me a guy in the fourth preseason game does something to distinguish himself and make a case for himself."
Turner's point is a good one. With starters expected to see little-to-no action across the entire League, Thursday night's preseason finales serve as a showcase game for young players looking to get their foot in the door and earn a roster spot or even a place on the practice squad, be it with their current team or with another team who may look to sign them if they don't make it past final cuts.
Last year, running back Joe Banyard averaged 4.8 yards per carry and caught seven passes for 54 yards and one touchdown in the preseason finale. Had he been on the bubble, that performance may have given him the last-second edge over another player. Banyard is still on the Vikings roster and will look to author a similarly impressive performance this year. There are others, such as receiver Kain Colter, tight end Allen Reisner and offensive linemen Tiny Richardson and Austin Wentworth who could help their case with a strong performance in Tennessee.
George Edwards, the Vikings Defensive Coordinator, pointed out another reason to watch the Vikings preseason finale on Thursday. He was asked why the battle for the starting strong safety position had not yet been decided.
"This was going to be a competition all the way through this preseason," Edwards explained. "That's stayed true to fact. Guys are still out there competing. We want to see them in different situations, see the different skill sets of guys. We've got a pretty good feel for where we are right now, but we still are going to keep competing."
Ultimately, the point is the Vikings final preseason game is certainly no throw-away. The game may not count in the standings, but it matters to a lot of coaches on staff and players on the roster.