Nobody does hype like ESPN, and nobody attracts hype like Brett Favre. The two machines meet tonight on Monday Night Football.
If you thought that the hoopla surrounding the arrival of Brett Favre
to the Vikings was a little overwhelming, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Wait until tonight.
The Vikings and the Houston Texans
will close out the third week of the preseason on a nationally televised ESPN game that will shine the spotlight on Favre, not only during the game but in the hours leading up to the contest.
Considering that the network has been the source Favre-related reports – much of which the Vikings have said is bad information – ranging from claims that Brad Childress was in Hattiesburg, Miss. when in fact he was still at his Winter Park office to "Schismgate," it will be interesting to see how the Vikings react to being dissected by the analysts heading into tonight's game.
Much of the focus will be on Favre, but tonight's game will be the best chance for fans to see what the Vikings have on both sides of the ball. The Texans are one of the fashionable teams to like this year, as they have assembled an array of playmakers on both sides of the ball looking to vault the team from among the league's mediocre franchises to playoff contenders. Because of that, they will be a good measuring stick for the new-look (or old-look) Favre-led Vikings.
If there is any consolation for the Vikings it is that this visit to the Monday night stage will be just the opening act. The next time Minnesota plays on Monday night, they play host to the Green Bay Packers
, which is scheduled to be Favre's first career start against his former team. If you think the wall-to-wall coverage of Favre-a-palooza will be excessive tonight, multiply that by 10 and you get some impression of how enormous the coverage will be in October when they return to the Monday night forum.
Through two games of the preseason, the Vikings were the only offense to not have a turnover or allow an opponent to register a sack.
Jim Kleinsasser could miss tonight's game as he recovers from a hand injury suffered against the Colts in the preseason opener.
Bernard Berrian is making progress in healing from a hamstring injury, but his game status is still up in the air for tonight.
Rookie offensive tackle Phil Loadholt missed Saturday's practice with a sprained ankle and his availability for tonight's game remains uncertain.
Jared Allen and Pat Williams, both of whom were held out of the home opener against Kansas City, are both expected back in the starting lineup tonight.
Although it won't be in the role he expected a couple of weeks ago, tonight's game will mark the return of Sage Rosenfels to Houston. The Vikings acquired Rosenfels in a February trade for a fourth-round draft pick. Over the last two years, Rosenfels made 10 starts in relief of injured starter Matt Schaub.
The Vikings are 2-0 all-time against the Texans, including a 28-21 win last year at the Metrodome and a 34-28 overtime win at Reliant Stadium in 2004.
The roof to Reliant Stadium may be closed for tonight's game because the forecast calls for highs in the mid-80s with a 60 percent chance of rain tonight.
Kicker Steven Hauschka, who spent training camp last year with the Vikings, missed a chip-shot field goal for the Ravens Saturday night. He was holding an edge in the kicker battle with Graham Gano and a decision was expected to be announced today as to the winner of the competition. However, coach John Harbaugh said following the game that the announcement won't come until Baltimore's preseason finale Thursday.
The second half of tonight's game will have some added significance for a handful of players. The Vikings need to trim their roster from 80 to 75 by Tuesday afternoon. The final cuts to the 53-man roster will come on Saturday.