Bring On the Chiefs

After a couple of rough practices that prompted Dick Vermeil to scream that a Vikings defensive player should be shot, tonight's game with Kansas City will have more intrigue than your average preseason game.

As non-conference rivals, you wouldn't think a game between teams from the NFC North and AFC West in the preseason would have a lot of drama. But the Vikings-Chiefs game tonight is dripping with it.

Seeing as almost every player on both roster wasn't even alive when the Chiefs beat the Vikings in Super Bowl IV, that isn't part of the intrigue. But there are several things that make this game worth watching.

The Vikings are playing their second preseason game, as opposed to the Chiefs playing their third. As a result, the Chiefs will likely give their front-line players a lot of work, especially RB Priest Holmes -- who has just eight carries in two preseason games to date since coming off hip surgery.

The Vikings, on the other hand are looking to build from a solid outing by the first-team offense and a gamelong effort by the defense vs. the Jaguars last week. The Vikings allowed the Jags just 11 first downs and to go an awful 1-of-10 on third-down conversions.

The game will also be the coming out party for Onterrio Smith. After leading a 10-minute drive in the third quarter last week, Smith will get a chance to play with the first-team offense tonight and make his challenge for the open starting RB spot vacated by the injured Michael Bennett.

Add to that the bad blood that exists because of a pair of spirited practice days at River Falls earlier this month that led to several fights and smack talk, this has the makings of a game that will have more of the feel of a regular season game than a preseason tilt.

* Whether it was the luck of the draw or not, the next three preseason opponents of the Vikings will also be on the regular season schedule in 2003.
* Look for the Vikings to break out their no-huddle offense for a drive or two tonight. Used last year as more of a gimmick to keep players and fans interested as the Vikings wallowed at the bottom of the NFC North, it was successful. Daunte Culpepper likes to no-huddle and the team will use more judiciously this year, perhaps starting tonight.
* Former Viking WR Derrick Alexander, who was released on Tuesday, has yet to hook on with another team.

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