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Early Look: Vikings vs. Cardinals

EAGAN, Minn. — The biggest dress rehearsal is on deck.

The Vikings will play their third preseason game Saturday, the one usually deemed the most important because starters generally play more than half of the contest.

Minnesota will host Arizona at noon (CT) at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Vikings are 2-0 in preseason play, getting wins over Seattle and New Orleans. The Cardinals have split their first two preseason games, getting a win over the Chargers but falling to the Raiders.

Here's a look at the Vikings third preseason contest against Arizona:

Passing: The No. 1 overall pick is coming to town.

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is the unquestioned starter in Arizona. The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner was the top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft in April.

Murray has completed nine of 15 passes for 56 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in limited preseason action so far. He has also been sacked three times, including once for a safety against the Raiders on Thursday.

The quarterback was also penalized twice for a false start against Oakland because officials ruled he drew the defense offsides with a clap snap.

Former Packers quarterback Brett Hundley is the backup in Arizona.

Rushing: Running back David Johnson should be a focal point of the offense as he tries to find his 2016 form that made him an All-Pro as one of the league's most versatile backs.

Johnson produced 2,118 total yards from scrimmage and 20 total touchdowns in 2016, then missed almost the entire 2017 season with an injury. He had 940 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in 2018.

Johnson has six carries for 10 yards in preseason play so far.

Chase Edmonds is the change-of-pace back behind Johnson, and he is joined by a handful of backs including T.J. Logan and Dontae Strickland.

Rookie Wes Hills leads Arizona with 10 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown in the preseason.

Receiving: Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald is still going strong as he enters his 16th NFL season.

Fitzgerald ranks second all-time behind Jerry Rice with 16,279 receiving yards, and is third in league history with 1,303 career receptions. He is tied for sixth with 116 touchdown catches.

Arizona has a stable of young wide receivers behind him, including Christian Kirk, KeeSean Johnson, Hakeem Butler and Andy Isabella.

The Cardinals ranked last in the NFL with 157.7 passing yards per game in 2018, and also surrendered 52 sacks, which tied for the fourth-most.

Charles Clay, former Gopher Maxx Williams, Ricky Seals-Jones and Caleb Wilson are the main names in the Cardinals tight ends room.

Defense: The Cardinals defense is led by a pair of veteran pass rushers in Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs, who have a combined 209.5 career sacks.

Jones had 13 sacks in 2018, his fourth straight campaign with double-digit sacks. Suggs is in his first season in Arizona after spending the past 16 years with Baltimore. He is tied for 13th all-time with 132.5 career sacks.

All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson is suspended for the first six games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. Former Vikings cornerback Tramaine Brock, Sr., is on the Cardinals roster.

Arizona ranked 26th in 2018 by allowing 26.6 points per game. The Cardinals ranked last against the run by giving up 154.9 rushing yards per game.

Special teams: Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez is entering his third season in Arizona and has made 24 of 34 career field goals.

Punter Andy Lee is entering his 16th season. Lee, a veteran of 233 career games, ranks fifth all-time with 1,229 career punts.

The Cardinals did not have a kickoff or punt return for a score in 2018.


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Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury is entering his rookie season as a head coach.

The former Texas Tech head coach went 35-40 with the Red Raiders and was hired by Arizona in January. He is one of eight coaches in their first season with a new team.

It remains to be seen how Kingsbury will do in his first season in the NFL, but here is how NFL head coaches have fared over the past five seasons in their first season with a team:

2018 (Mike Vrabel, Pat Shurmur, Matt Patricia, Steve Wilks, Jon Gruden, Matt Nagy, Frank Reich): 49-63; three winning records

2017 (Doug Marrone, Sean McDermott, Vance Joseph, Anthony Lynn, Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan): 50-46; four winning records

2016 (Doug Pederson, Mike Mularky, Adam Gase, Dirk Koetter, Hue Jackson, Ben McAdoo, Chip Kelly): 49-63; four winning records

2015 (John Fox, Rex Ryan, Todd Bowles, Dan Quinn, Gary Kubiak, Jack Del Rio, Jim Tomsula): 56-56; two winning records

2014 (Zimmer, Bill O'Brien, Jim Caldwell, Mike Pettine, Jay Gruden, Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt): 42-70-; two winning records