While results don't necessarily matter in the preseason, individual performances do. Position battles are starting to heat up with three weeks remaining before the start of the regular season, and starting lineups are beginning to settle.
If he hasn't already, first-round draft pick Harrison Smith is on his way toward locking up one of the starting safety spots for the Vikings. It's been an open competition for both spots with Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond.
Smith will start against the Bills with a chance to show that he belongs there from the opening kickoff. He did a fairly good job against the 49ers without making any notable plays one way or the other. Smith was more impressive than Sanford and Raymond, who started and struggled against the 49ers.
Smith has a great opportunity tonight to lock up one of the starting jobs and let the other two battle it out for the rest of camp.
Arthur Moats is currently battling Kirk Morrison for a linebacker spot in the Bills' starting defense. Morrison struggled to make much of an impact last season for the Bills but was re-signed this offseason. Moats started four games during his rookie season in 2010, but he did not start last season.
Moats has had a great training camp so far, and a strong performance against the Vikings could solidify his position within the defense. At 30 years old, Morrison has to prove that there is a distinct gap between the two players. If they end up being closely judged by the coaching staff, Moats is likely to get the job because of his upside.
At this point, the pressure is on Morrison to separate himself from Moats.
Jamarca Sanford is currently battling both Harrison Smith and Mistral Raymond for one of the two starting jobs at safety. As mentioned early in this piece, Smith has likely locked up one of the starting jobs, leaving Sanford and Raymond fighting for the last spot.
Both players had rough showings against the 49ers. As a pairing, they were part of the Vikings defense that got abused by the 49ers running game. One play in particular that stood out was Colin Kaepernick's 78-yard touchdown run, in which Sanford took a terrible angle.
Neither player has done much to earn the spot, but Sanford has more experience than Raymond. He will need a strong showing to pair with Harrison Smith at safety.
Left tackle Cordy Glenn has been battling Chris Hairston for the starting job for the last few days of practice. Hairston was filling in at right tackle because of injuries. The full-time starting job for a few weeks has been huge for Glenn. He has improved in a big way, showing a consistent ability to take advantage of reps.
Against the Vikings, Glenn will likely get the starting job. With a good performance against a fairly good defensive line, Glenn could put himself out of Hairston's reach. While Glenn will likely be the starter, Hairston will be the glue at either tackle position should an injury occur.