The week of practice is over and the Vikings will travel to St. Louis on Saturday for their battle against the Rams on Sunday afternoon. Here's what we learned this week about the Vikings as they prepared for their season opener.
Linval Joseph is ready to returnIt appears the Vikings will have their anchor in the middle of the defensive line for Sunday's game in St. Louis. Linval Joseph, signed during free agency this past offseason, impressed in the Vikings preseason debut but didn't see the field again during the exhibition season because of a leg injury. As the Vikings have prepared for their game against the Rams this week, though, Joseph has been a participant in practice and is not listed on the team's daily injury report.
Joseph met with reporters earlier in the week and said he was grateful and anxious to play on Sunday.
"It feels great. I'm just glad to be here and I can't wait for Sunday," Joseph said, later adding:
"Getting myself back to this level, it took a little time. But it was good because I had my team to support me, my family, friends, and I'm glad to be here. I'm glad I'm back, I'm glad I'm here, and I'm just glad I have another opportunity to play football."
Blanton, Brinkley will start for Vikings defenseVikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer isn't into formality, or pageantry or really any kind of pomp and circumstance. So it's easy to understand why being peppered with questions about who will start at a certain position could become annoying.
But that's life in the hyper-analyzed NFL. Questions about which linebacker would start in the middle and which safety would start at strong safety followed the Vikings all preseason. Earlier in the week, Zimmer answered those questions.
"I know you all want to know who's the starting MIKE linebacker," Zimmer said with a sternly facetious tone. "It's Jasper Brinkley, so I don't get this question asked anymore. Strong safety is Robert Blanton. Okay, we good?"
All jokes aside, those choices for the starting lineup make sense. Brinkley has held down the starting job throughout the offseason program, training camp and the preseason, and his thumping style fits with Zimmer's desire to be a stout run-defending group. Blanton had a beat on the starting job during the offseason and training camp, as well, until an injury sidelined him. He's back from that injury now and, for the time being, is also back atop the depth chart at strong safety.
Turner not concerned about Adrian Peterson's debutAdrian Peterson did not play this preseason. The Vikings chose to rest their star running back rather than have him play sparingly during the exhibition season and be exposed to injury. Whenever any team does that with any player, questions about a slow start emerge in front of the first regular season game.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner fielded one of those questions this week but explained he doesn't have much concern about a slow start for the best running back in the NFL.
"Based on everything I've seen in practice, and we had obviously a very up-tempo week in practice, he looks like he's ready to roll. I don't see any rust," Turner said.
One thing Turner did caution, though, is ball security, an issue that is addressed with a running back who hasn't taken a real hit in a while.
"When a guy plays and hasn't been tackled, you're always concerned about ball security," Turner explained. "But we've worked awfully hard on ball security, we've done every drill and everything you can do to get a guy ready for a game."
Cassel says Turner was a big reason he came back to MinnesotaSpeaking of Turner, Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel disclosed something about his decision to come back to the team this offseason that should be taken by Turner as a compliment.
"One of the main reasons that I came back is because of Coach Turner," Cassel said on Wednesday. "I think looking at the group of guys and the talent that we have here, what he's done throughout his career with his resume and everything, he's done a tremendous job of getting the best out of his players and also the quarterback position and that was something that I was really excited about to be working with Coach Turner."