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5 questions for the Vikings’ preseason finale vs. the Chiefs

Can the Vikings get ready for the regular season?
Kirk Cousins

The Minnesota Vikings will play their final preseason game on Friday when they hit the road to take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

While a regular-season matchup between these two teams would create a convoy toward Arrowhead Stadium, this meeting will be subdued as both teams make their final adjustments ahead of Week 1.

Will the Vikings' offense score a touchdown?

The Vikings have struggled throughout the preseason, generating 16 points through two games. Speaking to the media earlier this week, Mike Zimmer made it clear what he wants from his offense on Friday night.

“Touchdowns to be honest with you," Zimmer said via Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. "If you're going to throw 5-yard checkdowns all day long, it takes 20 of them, so. We'd like to get the ball down the field a little more."

The comment appears to be a slight at Kirk Cousins, who completed 5-of-7 passes against the Colts but only generated 23 yards. Still, Cousins may have a tough time improving with Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen unlikely to play on Friday.

That puts the onus on offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak. Although Kubiak has been close to the vest this preseason, Zimmer's demands may force him to open things up to impress his boss. How much Kubiak rolls out will depend on the situation but the Vikings should be more aggressive in Kansas City.

Can the offensive line build on last week's performance?

There were a lot of things that went wrong in the first two preseason games but the Vikings could hang their hat on the improvement along the offensive line.

Right guard was encouraging for the Vikings as Oli Udoh (83.8), Dakota Dozier (78.7) and Wyatt Davis (76.2) had the three highest Pro Football Focus grades on the team. Brian O'Neill (67.9) and Garrett Bradbury (66.5) also played well and it was a solid overall effort despite Rashod Hill allowing a sack to Kwity Paye.

If Hill can clean things up on the edge, the Vikings should be in good shape. Establishing a foundation until Christian Darrisaw returns from groin surgery will be key but a strong effort against the Chiefs should go a long way.

Are the Vikings linebackers ready if Barr misses time?

Anthony Barr's situation appears to be growing worse amid an undisclosed injury that could keep him out for Week 1. If Barr isn't ready to go, the Vikings will rely on some of their depth linebackers to step up beginning with Friday's finale.

Nick Vigil led the way against the Colts, recording a pass breakup on the first defensive snap but missing a tackle on 11 snaps. Troy Dye also improved from his effort against the Broncos, returning an interception for a touchdown last week.

It appears Vigil and Dye will be two players to watch on Friday as they look to cement their roster spots. If they're able to perform well, there's a good chance they could be relied upon when the Vikings open in Cincinnati on Sept. 12.

Is Ihmir Smith-Marsette the Vikings' kick returner?

The Vikings' carousel on special teams continue but their biggest need could be a kick returner. Minnesota hasn't had a kick returned for a touchdown since 2016 and didn't have a punt return over 13 yards last season.

Several options have been used this preseason but the frontrunner could be Ihmir Smith-Marsette. The fifth-round pick recorded a 41-yard kickoff return and a 17-yard punt return against the Colts and could be a more explosive alternative to K.J. Osborn and Chad Beebe.

Smith-Marsette's special teams have been criticized by Zimmer this preseason but he has improved through both preseason games. With another strong effort, he could win the job until Kene Nwangwu recovers from a knee injury.

Can the Vikings trust Greg Joseph?

By most accounts, Joseph has done everything he can to become the Vikings' starting kicker. The 27-year-old knocked down 17 kicks in a row at one point during training camp and his lone miss came on a 51-yard field goal attempt against the Colts.

But coming into the final preseason game, something doesn't feel right. Joseph's 47-yard field goal last week looked like a pop-up that cleared the crossbar and although he outlasted Riley Patterson, the rookie from Memphis was always a longshot to make the roster.

That makes Friday an important night for Joseph. If Joseph can have an uneventful evening, he could win the job. But the Vikings have been known for last-minute changes on special teams and with Eddy Piñero's release from the Colts, the Vikings could have their eye on the transaction wire.

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