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Vikings Roundup, 8/26: Zimmer 'Good Matchups' in Dallas

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — It took a while to find, but there's a quarterback with a better completion percentage on an upcoming opponent's roster than the **sizzling start** that Teddy Bridgewater and Shaun Hill have had for the Vikings.

Cowboys QB Tony Romo is 1-of-1 passing this preseason, even though the completion resulted in a loss of 1 yard, which is enough to lead Dallas with a passer rating of 79.2.

Brandon Weeden is 6-of-10 passing for 49 yards for a rating of 72.5, Dustin Vaughan is 19-of-34 passing for 190 yards with two interceptions, and Jameill Showers is 13-of-28 for 120 yards and the Cowboys only passing TD at the midpoint of their preseason slate.

The Vikings defense has limited opponents to a combined 52-of-101 passing (51.5 percent for 559 yards, allowed zero passing TDs and recorded four interceptions for a combined passer rating of 51.5.

Bridgewater is 22-of-28 passing (78.6 percent) for 219 yards with a TD and a rating of 111.2, and Hill is 19-of-26 (73.1 percent) for 186 yards with three TDs and one interception for a rating of 115.2.

Some teams view this week of the preseason as a "dress rehearsal" for the regular season and the prime time to play starters more, but that's not how the Vikings are approaching this one.

It remains to be seen how much Dallas might play Romo, but Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said it will be good for Minnesota to face a team coming off a 12-4 campaign in 2014 in which they ranked near the top in multiple offensive statistical categories.

A highlight will be the matchups between the Cowboys offensive line and Vikings defensive line. Both units are returning all their starters from a season ago.

"I think it's great that we're playing a team that's very, very talented because it gives me a better understanding of our team and where we're at and guys they're going against," Zimmer said. "You always look at different matchups, anyway, whoever we're playing. There will be some good matchups this week that we'll have to contend with."

The Cowboys offense returned six of its seven starters who made the Pro Bowl, but don't expect the Vikings to fall victim to too much all-star gazing in the Lone Star State.

Minnesota is still concentrating on self-reflection and improvement and won't add in anything that Dallas does until Thursday's practice.

"It's still about us and doing what we do and seeing if we can do it good against a team that we really haven't studied much or anything like that," Zimmer said. "So it'll be a good test. They're a very, very good offensive football team. They've improved a lot defensively. They've always done a good job on special teams, so it'll be a good test."

Backup back in Dallas: Veteran swingman Joe Berger, a member of the Cowboys from part of 2006 through 2008 has been taking reps at center for John Sullivan. After those snaps, he's been sliding over to right guard with the second team.

"That's kind of been my deal here," Berger said. "My spot here is to be that swing guy and show them I can play all three spots at a level as close as I can to the starters. We've got some good guys up there that are big shoes to fill, but that's how I make the team, to come in and play as best as I can at their level."

Berger played home games with the Cowboys in Texas Stadium in Irving instead of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, but was with the Vikings on their trip to the newer venue in 2013.

"It almost seems like a whole different place because of where you go," Berger said. "I didn't spend a lot of time down in Arlington. The team has rolled over quite a bit, but it's fun to go back to the city and fly into the airport. The memories I had there were a great couple of years. It's always fun to go back and play the team you were with."

Hodges Adjusting: As mentioned in Tuesday's roundup, Gerald Hodges is on track to be the **third player** the Vikings have started at middle linebacker in as many weeks. Hodges has never manned the middle until this preseason.

Zimmer was asked about the transition and said he once had a nose tackle move to middle linebacker, and "he played pretty good," before adding, (Hodges has) "improved a lot in a lot of the things he does, in the meeting rooms, in the classroom, in the weight room and he's performed well when he's had a chance to play.

"He's a guy who has a lot of acceleration," Zimmer continued. "He's got some physicality to him and I just thought it would be good to give him an opportunity and see what it looks like."

Hodges said once alignments are taken care of, it just amounts to playing football.

"It all ties together. The more you know on the outside, the easier it is to pick up and go," Hodges said. "Coach Zimmer tries to make it so that everyone on the defensive side of the ball knows everything everybody is doing. When your defense is ablt to do that, that's when you have a great defense."

Keeping up with the Joneses: Zimmer, who has a house in Dallas and a daughter who lives in the area, was asked if there will be a sentimental feeling in returning to the site of his first NFL job and where he helped the Cowboys win Super Bowl XXX. He said he has many friends with the organization and appreciates the relationship he has with the Cowboys ownership group.

"The Joneses, they were always real good to me. Stephen [Jones] and I talk a fair amount," Zimmer said. "They invite me down to their hunting place a lot. I go down there quite a bit. I've still got tons and tons of people that worked in the building that I'm friends with. It's playing an opponent, I'm sure they want to win, too."

Timing is everything: Brian Robison is one of nine Vikings players on the roster with a hometown tie in Texas. He said he's not getting hit up as much for tickets on this return since the visit is still in the preseason.

"I always love going back home and being able to play in front of my family and friends so anytime you can go back home, you kind of want to show out a little bit," Robison said. "At the end of the day, it's about winning ball games. It's not about your personal vendettas or anything you want to call it like that. At the end of the day, it's about helping your team win ball games."

Practice notes: Kyle Rudolph found a significant amount of space for perhaps the easiest catch of the day, and Ryan Whalen recorded one of the most difficult with a one-handed snare near the sideline.

Anthony Barr continued to get back in the mix and showed great reflexes on an interception, and Shaun Prater capitalized for another INT after a pass was tipped by DeMarcus Van Dyke. The Vikings worked on red zone and two-minute drill situations.

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