Vikes-Bills Round One

Don't expect Mike Tice to show anything out of the ordinary tonight vs. Buffalo because both teams will get first-hand scouting reports.

For fans who dislike preseason football, take note of tonight's game vs. the Bills. When the regular season starts, the Vikings' first home game will be against Buffalo -- tonight's opponent. As a result, expect both coaches to keep the game plan pretty close to the vest tonight.

It's rare when the NFL schedules regular-season opponents against each other in the preseason, much less two games in one month -- the Vikes play their home opener Sept. 15 vs. the Bills.

As a result, don't expect to see much in the way of gadget plays or trickery tonight from the first units. In the event you do see a flea flicker or double reverse the only guarantee is that you won't see it Sept. 15. The Vikes and the Bills won't have to look at a lot of videotape of the Bills in waiting for their Week 2 matchup. They will have first-hand experience to be their guide.

As often is the case -- most recently when the Eagles and Bucs played a meaningless regular season finale before meeting a week later in the playoffs -- neither coach is likely to tip his hand on what he has planned offensively tonight. For the Vikings, that task will be easier, since the top three running backs on the depth chart are all likely to be sidelined.

Still, Tice will face a dilemma in that he wants to push the offensive envelope to get the team off to a better start than it saw last Saturday, but at the same time not waste what could be a huge play against a Buffalo defensive weakness.

What does this mean? As much as the Vikes would like to pull out all the stops vs. Buffalo, because they're meeting again for real in less than a month, don't expect to see anything exotic -- it should be a meat and potato offense.

* VU has been told to watch out for some special teams trickery. Jay Hayes has some fake field goals and punts in his coaching arsenal, which would be a departure from the Vikes of recent past. In the 10 years Denny Green was coach and the entire tenure of special teams coach Gary Zauner, the Vikes never attempted a single fake punt or field goal and, with the game on the line at Green Bay in 2000, that lack of preparation for the unexpected cost the Vikings a game and home field in the NFC playoffs.
* After being slowed by injuries, Derrick Alexander is expected to make his Vikings debut tonight.
* Former Viking Randall Cunningham called it a career officially Thursday, signing a ceremonial deal with the Eagles and retiring with the team that brought him into the NFL. One of the great people in the game at the end of his career, VU wishes Cunningham nothing but the best in his future away from football.

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