Denver Broncos vs. Minnesota Vikings: Five Things To Watch This Thursday
The Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings square off this Thursday in what will be a final tuneup for each team before the regular season begins.
Each team has some concerns and will be monitored closely by their coaches and fans.
So what does each team have to keep an eye on during week 4 of the preseason, a week which normally features second and third string players?
Let's take a look.
The Quarterbacks, Of Course
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Old Man River (errr...Favre, I mean) will be taking reps in the final preseason game in the hopes that he will build some chemistry with his new-ish group of receivers.
All eyes will be on the arm and the ankle. People will watch to see which fails first, especially with Favre speaking out about how he truly feels the effects of his age.
The Vikings had better hope that Tavaris Jackson builds an equal level of chemistry with those receivers, because one rough hit and that's it for The Great Ancient One.
On the Broncos side of things, Kyle Orton is continuing to earn the faith of his fellow players and the fans.
But in the end, all critical eyes will be pointed at Tim Tebow, who should see a decent amount of play in this game. After not running the ball during week three, will we see another big play on the ground, or has Tebow temporarily shelved his rushing antics?
Oh yeah, and there's Brady Quinn. Maybe he'll throw another interception?
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For the Broncos, little Eddie Royal appears to actually be part of the offense once again after a terribly disappointing sophomore outing last year.
Of course, without Brandon Marshall, Denver is relying on a wide group of targets to step up to the plate, starting with veteran Jabar Gaffney.
However, it will be Eric Decker getting most of the attention from fans, as he looks to turn heads with another touchdown reception. If he does well enough, he may even overtake Brandon Stokley on the depth chart. Anyone else wondering when we're actually going to see the Broncos overall first selection, Demaryius Thomas, hit the field?
The Vikings have an equal number of question marks for their receiving corps, with the injury to Sidney Rice dominating their headlines.
Percy Harvin appears to be coming along with the migraines and the prognosis is leaning towards positive.
However, Bernard Berrian as a true starter has some folks worried. Can Favre do to him what he did to Rice and put Berrian on the map?
If all else fails, Greg Camarillo and Javon Walker are there. That statement has to have the fans worried.
Also, it has to be asked. Is Favre regretting his decision about coming back now that he's lost his top target for at least half the season?
The Denver Injuries
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Knowshon Moreno. Correll Buckhalter. Ryan Clady.
All three are important offensive players and all three have been recently sidelined by injuries.
And then there were the pre-draft injuries of wide receivers Decker and Thomas.
It certainly provides a distinct level of anxiety for fans.
Oh yeah, and Tebow bruised his ribs. Whatever, he'll be fine.
The Broncos are having to cope with the loss of a number of starters and damage to some important youngsters on their squad.
Moreno and Clady are both being watched closely. Will they play this game? If they do, they had better be pulled early, because risking re-injury at this point could be catastrophic.
Broncos fans will be watching to see who suits up and hits the field. And will be even more scared if someone hits the field and then doesn't get back up. That's the last thing Denver needs right now, especially after the scary hit on Orton last week by James Harrison.
The Minnesota Drama
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There have been a number of recent reports stating that Favre and head coach Brad Childress have been at odds. Obviously, they both prefer different offensive styles. Childress is more conservative, while Favre earned his fame by taking risks.
In addition, Favre has been decidely down in the dumps in post-game interviews, especially after week three. What happens if this attitude takes a toll on the offense?
There are other concerns as well, such as who actually deserves to be the No. 2 quarterback? Jackson is the expected choice (for reasons unknown), though Sage Rosenfels has made an excellent case for himself this preseason.
The drama may not "baby mama" bad, but it has certainly put a sour taste in the Minnesota air surrounding what is supposed to be their season to win it all.
This week needs to be a solidifying point for the Vikes and a bad game could muddy the waters. It may put Favre and Childress at further odds. It could stir up bad blood and make for a rocky entrance in to the regular season.
The Other Rookies Not Named Tim Tebow
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Many people may not know who is pictured on this slide.
He would be the University of Virginia standout cornerback, Chris Cook. As the Vikings first selection in the 2010 draft, Cook brings a 6'2" frame with solid instincts and excellent toughness.
The cornerback position for the Vikings has been in doubt since the injury to Cedric Griffin in the NFC Championship game. While Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen are on the team, it may be Cook who sneaks in to fill the spot if he continues his excellent preseason play.
Toby Gerhart, the rookie Vikings running back, may not be the next Chris Johnson, but he has showed steady preseason form. Most importantly, he proved his doubters wrong and has shown good hands coming out of the backfield. He brings a new threat to an offense that certainly needs new options now.
Zane Beadles, a rookie Denver offensive lineman, has been pushing to start on day one at left guard, or even at left tackle if Clady is still out. Most likey, Beadles will stay on the inside and provide consistent pass blocking and strength in the run game. His play could help recharge an offensive line that is starting to look a lot less stellar than it has in years past.
On the defensive side of things for the Broncos, defensive back Perrish Cox is looking to prove that the whole missing curfew thing is behind him. So far, his preseason play reiterates that statement plenty. Filling in for Champ Bailey is no small thing, so the fact that Cox has excelled at the position says a lot about the value of the fifth round pick from Oklahoma State. Continue watching Cox to see his effectiveness on special teams and his potential in the nickel slot.