Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Patrick Peterson
Two of the most exciting young players in the NFL should square off, albeit briefly, Saturday night at TCF Bank Stadium.
Everyone in Minnesota is expecting a breakout season from second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who has a rare combination of speed and running ability. Patterson is already among the best runners after the catch in the league, and if he can refine his route running in Season 2, the sky is the limit.
He should be locking horns with Patrick Peterson Saturday night, and it will be one of the very few times he's matching up against his athletic equal. Peterson, who's made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons, signed a five-year, $70 million extension on July 29, according to KCRA.com.
Xavier Rhodes vs. John Brown
The Cardinals are convinced they found a diamond in the rough when they drafted small-college receiver John Brown, out of Pittsburg State University, in the third round of May's draft.
Brown has been the talk of Arizona's training camp, according to Robert Mays of Grantland. And he followed that up with a stellar performance in the Cardinals romp over the Texans by catching five passes for 87 yards.
Cardinals GM Steve Keim raved about Brown to Mays, saying:
I haven’t seen a rookie come in and do what he’s done — and it’s early still — since Anquan Boldin. This guy came through the first day, and being from Pittsburg State, has uncanny instincts, unbelievable understanding of route concepts, leverage, being in the right spot at the right time. On top of great ball skills, he has unusual speed and explosiveness. You add all that in combination, and it’s amazing this guy who came from Pittsburg State can do this. Through this part of camp, I haven’t seen any of our players cover him, and I think you’d probably be able to put on the Texans tape and realize they didn’t have anybody to cover him.
Brown sounds like he'll be an excellent third receiver to match up with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd in Arizona. With Floyd out for Saturday's game, Brown will probably match up against Rhodes early on Saturday.
The Vikings, in turn, are expecting big things from Rhodes in his second season. FOXNorth.com reporter Brian Hall reports that both Zimmer and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray have been giving a lot of attention to Rhodes during training camp.
Vikings Secondary vs. Logan Thomas
While Brown looks like an excellent find by the Cardinals, it's their fourth-round pick, quarterback Logan Thomas, who might end up being the steal of the draft.
Thomas, who tested out off the charts at the combine, was quite the tantalizing prospect before the draft, but his spotty play in college scared off plenty of teams.
At 6'6", 250 pounds with a rocket arm, Thomas was seen as a raw prospect who clearly had the athletic ability to play in the NFL, even if it meant switching to tight end.
Through training camp and one preseason game, there clearly will be no position switch for Thomas, who finished 11-of-12 passing for 113 yards and a touchdown against the Texans.
Marc Sessler of NFL.com reports that ESPN's Ron Jaworski said Thomas was the best rookie quarterback he saw during Week 1 and that he has the look of an All-Pro.
That's effusive praise after just one game, but Thomas should provide an interesting test for the slew of Vikings defensive backs who are battling for starting spots and slots on the roster.
Safety Kurt Coleman had a nice game against the Raiders, coming up with an interception, and veteran Chris Crocker will get his first playing time as a Viking.
Vikings' X-Factor of the Week: Adam Thielen
The wide receiver out of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, had an excellent first game of the preseason against the Raiders. Adam Thielen returned three punts for 53 yards, including a 26-yard return, caught a 15-yard pass and made an excellent special teams play: a tackle on punt coverage.
Thielen has impressed Vikings coaches all through training camp and another good preseason game could all but cement his spot on the final roster, after spending the 2013 season on the practice squad. Thielen signed with the Vikings after going undrafted out of Minnesota State, Mankato.
In a story on Thielen in the Star Tribune, Megan Ryan quotes Cordarrelle Patterson as saying the following about Thielen:
I know he’s going to make the team. I don’t care what anybody else says, he’s a part of this team. … Talent like that, you cannot hide. I have defensive guys, you know, veterans, who’re saying Adam should have been a part of this team last year, and I feel that, too.
At this point, barring an injury, Thielen has probably locked up a roster spot. But another good showing in game conditions could boost his confidence and get him more reps down the line.