Perhaps the most intriguing open competition the Minnesota Vikings have right now is for the starting middle linebacker job.
Audie Cole started the first two preseason games and rookie Eric Kendricks, a second-round pick from UCLA, started against the Raiders last Saturday. But now Gerald Hodges has entered the equation, and he might be at the top of the depth chart.
According to Andrew Krammer of 1500 ESPN, Hodges took the majority of first-team snaps at Monday's practice, with Kendricks rotating in behind him.
Head coach Mike Zimmer declined to comment on who this week's starter will be when the Vikings play Dallas in the fourth of five preseason games.
“I’m just trying to get through this week,” Zimmer said Monday, according to Vikings Territory. “We’ll see, if it goes good this week, then maybe we will go with it the rest of the way. If guys are playing good, they’ll keep playing and if they’re not…I just haven’t told the players yet so I don’t want to tell you.”
Just last week, local reporter Brian Hall was under the assumption that the job was a two-man race between Cole and Kendricks.
In line with Hall's thinking is Arif Hasan of The Daily Norseman, whose latest depth chart prediction (updated Monday) has Kendricks starting and Cole backing him up, with Hodges serving a backup role at outside linebacker.
In a typical four-game preseason schedule, starters play the most during the third game and very little or not at all in the fourth game. The Vikings play five games this preseason, so this week's game against Dallas should be the equivalent to the third game in a normal season – and whoever starts should be considered the favorite to start Week 1 of the regular season.