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5 players to watch closely during Vikings-Seahawks Friday night

Could rookie Brian O'Neill win the starting job at right tackle?

The all-important third preseason game takes place Friday night as the Vikings play the Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium, and this is the game that often provides a good sampling of what the lineup will look like when the regular season begins. 

Teams have until 3 p.m. on Sep. 1 to finalize the 53-man roster, so a bad game Friday night won't necessarily kill a fringe player's chances to make the team because they can still prove their worth in next Thursday's (Aug. 30) preseason final against the Titans. 

Key players we'll watch closely Friday night.

George Iloka: The former Bengals starting safety signed with the Vikings earlier this week and claims to know about 80 percent of the defense having played under Mike Zimmer earlier in his career. With Andrew Sendejo the assumed starting safety next to Harrison Smith, it'll be interesting to see the variety of ways the Vikings use Iloka. That is, if Iloka winds up playing. We'll wait and see. 

Laquon Treadwell: Expect the former first-round pick to get a ton of playing time. He's had an impressive training camp but has just three catches for 11 yards in two preseason games. Granted, he's only been targeted three times, so maybe this is the game he becomes more involved as the third wide receiver. 

Dalvin Cook: The running back has yet to step on the field this preseason and there's no official word from the Vikings that he'll play against Seattle, but NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that Cook will get some game action. It would be his first action in a game since tearing his ACL last October against the Lions, and it would be the first time seeing quarterback Kirk Cousins with the best running back on the team behind him. 

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Rashod Hill vs. Brian O'Neill: This might be the game that decides who the starting right tackle will be. Hill, the veteran, versus O'Neill, the second round draft pick from Pittsburgh. Hill has been plagued by an illness and a rolled ankle this preseason, and it's opened the door for first-team reps for O'Neill, and by all accounts he's put himself in the discussion to win the starting job. 

Mike Remmers: It's expected that Remmers will make his preseason debut after missing the first two games because of an ankle injury. Remmers is the projected starter at right guard, but his history of starting at right tackle coupled with Minnesota's possible issues with Hill and O'Neill, in addition to the rise of second-year lineman Aviante Collins, gives the Vikings some options. 

Assuming starting center Pat Elflein will be ready for the regular season opener against the 49ers, the Vikings still have a ton of moving parts and options on the offensive line. Here's some of the starting possibilities we think exist. 

O-line 1:

  • LT: Riley Reiff
  • LG: Tom Compton
  • C: Pat Elflein
  • RG: Mike Remmers
  • RT: Rashod Hill or Brian O'Neill

O-line 2: 

  • LT: Riley Reiff
  • LG: Tom Compton
  • C: Pat Elflein
  • RG: Aviante Collins
  • RT: Mike Remmers

O-line 3: 

  • LT: Riley Reiff
  • LG: Aviante Collins
  • C: Pat Elflein
  • RG: Mike Remmers
  • RT: Rashod Hill or Brian O'Neill

The line combinations the Vikings use in the first half Friday night could be a really good indicator to what we'll see during the regular season. 

Oh, and for good measure, we're quite excited to see the third running back battle between Mike Boone and Roc Thomas. Both have had great camps and preseason games, and it's a battle that'll likely go down to the wire next week. 

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