The real battles with the Vikings are going on between teammates. With less than three weeks left until teams kick it off for real, there are still plenty of questions waiting to be answered with the 2005 edition of the Vikings.
A look at three fights worth watching:
That could change. Those struggles might make linebacker the biggest weakness on the defense.
"People can say what they want, but that doesn't mean it's true," veteran linebacker Keith Newman said. "When you start talking about E.J. and Dontarrious, those guys came in this offseason and worked hard and are picking things up now. It's a matter of those guys getting in a comfort zone."
This is clearly a make-or-break season for Henderson, the Vikings' second-round draft pick in 2003. Thomas was a second-round pick in '04. Because of their weight as second-round picks, the Vikings will do all they can to afford both players every chance to succeed. The Vikings hope they see the returns soon.
Other than that, life is well in the trenches.
"We've got a new right guard (Johnson or Goldberg) and a new left guard (either Johnson or Goldberg, or even Liwienski upon his return). It takes time," Tice said. "We're not in sync yet. Everything I see is fixable. I certainly know they're smart enough. So they'll figure out."
Your probable starting lineup for Friday has Cory Withrow at center, Goldberg and Johnson at guard, and Mike Rosenthal and Bryant McKinnie at tackle. Liwienski may be able to return to action as well. The Vikings are glad they have no concerns at tackle.
"Both of our tackles had good weeks," Tice said last week. "The biggest thing I see is that we're not in sync between guard and center."
Tice was more pleased with the interior effort against New York.
Considering there are still two preseason games and three weeks of practice before the opener, it's still a race too close call.
One thing for sure, Tice will not keep two kickers — one for field goals and another as the kickoff specialist. "We will not keep two kickers," Tice said. "Read my lips."