The Vikings have waited for tonight for more than eight months – a chance to get back on the field and erase the memory of a 2006 season that finished with the Vikings going 2-8 down the stretch.
There are plenty of answers that need to be learned during the preseason. Among them are how comfortable Tarvaris Jackson will be heading into his second season as the starter? Will Adrian Peterson play tonight and, if so, what will his impact be? Will the Vikings find a way to get Peterson and Chester Taylor on the field at the same time? Who will step up at wide receiver? Will newcomers Bobby Wade and Visanthe Shiancoe make an impact? Will the right side of the offensive line show improvement?
The questions on defense are just as pressing. Will Erasmus James return to form whenever he does return to the field? Is Ray Edwards the real deal? Is Chad Greenway going to be an impact player? Can E.J. Henderson dominate in the middle? Who will step up in the battle at cornerback? Who won't be on the roster at safety?
These and more questions will start getting answers tonight. The sooner those questions get answered, the better off the Vikings will be.
* Former Viking Fred Smoot is flapping his gums again. After failing miserably with the Vikings, he's blaming the area and the team, not himself. In a story in the Washington Post, Smoot said, "I wasn't into it. I hated the place. I was in depression. Believe that? Smiling Fred Smoot goes through a depression. But it happened, man, it happened. I was down and that's why I made this happen. I went to the front office and told them I don't want to be there no more." Bad grammar aside, it would seem that it was the Vikings' idea to get rid of Smoot, who, we're glad to say, has rediscovered his smile – until he gets burned by Terrell Owens or Plaxico Burress.
* Former Viking Obafemi Ayanbadejo might find himself in court after being suspended by the league for the first four games of the 2007 season for violating the league's anabolic steroid and related substances policy. The problem? The banned substance Ayanbadejo allegedly took was an over the counter medication. He was cut by the Cardinals as a result of the positive test, but signed a week later with the Bears, explaining that the positive test resulted from taking a substance called Max LMG – a product that decreases estrogen levels in the body and boosts testosterone. Ayanbadejo has already met with league officials to appeal the suspension and plans to sue the manufacturer for misleading claims.
* A fan of high-definition television? So is the NFL. The league announced its replays will be going high-def this season. HD systems have been installed in all but three stadiums, because those teams – the Jets, Giants, Cowboys and Colts – will all be in new stadiums soon.
Questions, Questions, Questions
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