Brooks Bollinger vs. John David Booty
Ordinarily, a Matchup to Watch pits a star player from one team locked up against a star player from another team, whether it's Jared Allen vs. a top left offensive tackle or Bernard Berrian against a shut-down cornerback. But for Thursday's preseason finale between the Vikings and Cowboys, the final battle between Brooks Bollinger and John David Booty is this week's Matchup to Watch.
Many believe it was only a matter of time before Bollinger was sent packing from the Vikings when the team signed Gus Frerotte in free agency and traded up in the fifth round of the draft to select Booty. Bollinger has continued to go about his business as if he has a roster spot on the team and, although it would be a mild shock if he did make the squad, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility.
Bollinger only got one start last year – the shutout blowout against the Packers in Green Bay – but that can't be completely laid at his door. The entire offense and defense stunk during that game. However, in the preseason, Bollinger has been given very little in the way of a chance to prove himself. He has completed just 8 of 17 passes for 71 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. As Denny Green would say, he is what thought he was – a game manager who won't take over games, but won't kill his team either.
Booty came to the Vikings with an impressive pedigree from USC. His two predecessors – Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart – were both Heisman Trophy winners and first-round draft picks and JDB's knowledge of the West Coast Offense was his primary calling card. He has been praised for his accuracy and decision-making skills, but, three games into his professional career, he has done little to give any of the coaches or fans reasons for overt optimism. To date, he has completed 14 of 26 passes for 110 yards, but has had two interceptions – one of which was returned for a touchdown. His passer rating is just 32.5 – one of the lowest totals possible – and has done little to engender the confidence of his teammates at this early stage in his career.
Because the Vikings traded an extra draft pick to move up in the fifth round of April's draft to take him, there are many who believe JDB is a lock to make the final roster as the third quarterback. However, some others believe that the Vikings may go to the well once again and try to slide Booty through waivers to the practice squad. After their experience with Tyler Thigpen last year, that is far from a certainty and the Vikings may be once bitten, twice shy in that regard.
Brad Childress said earlier this week that the final preseason game is a last chance for players trying to make the team to prove themselves. That is the case for both Bollinger and Booty and, while they're teammates, each will get one more half of football to prove himself – making this the Matchup to Watch Thursday.
Matchup to Watch: Booty vs. Bollinger
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