The Minnesota Vikings will host the second game of their preseason schedule on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts.
After they were bulldozed by the Denver Broncos last weekend, the Vikings are looking to have a much better performance and build momentum for their Sept. 12 opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
How long will the starters play?
With any preseason game, the biggest question is how long the Vikings will let their starters play. The Vikings benched 31 players and 20 starters against the Broncos and Mike Zimmer said he should have had those players go through the pregame warmup.
That won't be a problem this week as Zimmer said his starters will play against the Colts but didn't specify how much. He also said his staff didn't buy into the "dress rehearsal" game under the old preseason format, so it's possible the starters may only see a couple of series.
After the Vikings' backups were dominated against the Broncos, it would make sense if they were careful with their starters. With the Vikings also wanting to get something positive on tape, Zimmer could opt to get another extended look at his backups as he evaluates the roster.
Can Oli Udoh play guard?
While we may not see much of the starters, Saturday will be a prime opportunity for Udoh to answer the questions at right guard.
Udoh was converted from tackle to guard right before training camp and ascended up the depth chart. While his main competition was Dakota Dozier and third-round pick Wyatt Davis, Udoh has been locked into the starting spot without any game action.
Even if the Vikings starters only play a couple of series, it will be interesting to see how Udoh plays. Remember, it only took a pair of series to see that Dozier's struggles from last season have carried over into this year, so Udoh could make a big statement against the Colts.
Will Stephen Weatherly or D.J. Wonnum step up?
Most of the position battles have already been settled coming into Saturday's game, but one spot up for grabs is the starting defensive end spot across from Danielle Hunter.
The Vikings came into the preseason with Weatherly and Wonnum battling for that spot but both struggled against the Broncos. With Everson Griffen working out for the Vikings on Wednesday, it's a call to action for both players if they want to win the job.
Zimmer didn't say too much about the battle during his Thursday press conference noting they "don't have to make a decision yet." Unless Weatherly or Wonnum does something to get them on the radar, the Vikings could decide that bringing Griffen back could be the best option.
Will the special teams rebound?
The Vikings brought in a new coach and a slew of new players to help their special teams during the offseason, but the changes brought the same results in their loss to the Broncos.
Britton Colquitt saw three of his four punts go for under 40 yards and the fourth punt crossed that threshold with a generous bounce. Zimmer called Colquitt's performance "cause for concern" after the game and the Vikings brought in Max Duffy for a workout this week.
Things went better for Greg Joseph, who knocked down both field goal attempts in the loss to the Broncos. The Vikings waived Riley Patterson after last week's game but Joseph could still lose the job if he runs into a funk.
Mix in a 62-yard kickoff return to open the second half and it's clear they need a better effort against the Colts.
Will the Vikings make us feel better about this team?
If we don't mince words, last week's performance didn't feel good. The Vikings came out and were blown away by the Broncos, which raised questions about where this team could be headed in 2021.
Because of last week's performance, Zimmer rode the Vikings hard in practice this week including an 11-on-11 scrimmage on Monday. Perhaps that might serve as a wake up call to some players on the edge of the roster but it's just as important to see the Viking starters succeed in their limited time.
Preseason games usually mean nothing but it would be a good idea to get something positive on tape Saturday. If the Vikings can show improvement and some depth, they should be able to have a better game than they did against the Broncos.