Key Matchup: Brett Favre vs. "The Rust"

Brett Favre needed a few games into the regular season last year to establish himself as a Pro Bowl passing threat in the Vikings offense. He'll get his most extensive playing time of the preseason tonight, and he'll be trying to establish a rhythm without (likely) two of his top receivers.

It would seem that we have a preseason theme working on the key matchups. In the opener against the Rams, it was Sage Rosenfels, who responded with more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. Last week, it was Tarvaris Jackson and how he would respond to being demoted to the No. 2 QB after Favre-a-Palooza II returned to the Twin Cities for a six-month engagement. This time, it's Brett Favre himself. After taking just four snaps in the preseason, he is expected to play the entire first half and quite possibly the first drive or two of the second half. How he handles shaking off the rust makes him this week's key matchup.

It's been more than seven months since Favre took his beating in New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game and there are some concerns as to whether he will be in top form considering he has only had a little more than a week of practice and a shop teacher's handful of snaps in game situations.

Complicating his problems are that the players he was the most familiar with at the wide receiver spot – Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin – aren't going to play (we're speculating on Harvin and certain on Rice). Favre is going to have to build a quick new rapport with guys like Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo and Javon Walker. All of them, as well as veterans like Greg Lewis and Visanthe Shiancoe, will be critical for Favre to get some momentum building for the 2010 season.

Without arguably his top two receiving weapons, the natural inclination would be that the Vikings are going to try to run the ball more. But that won't be lost on the Seahawks, who are likely going to challenge Favre by packing the box with eight players in an attempt to stop the running game and force Favre to make plays through the air.

As incredible as Favre's 2009 season was, he got off to a slow start. In his first two games of the regular season, he threw for just 265 yards – an alarmingly low number, especially when you consider that the first two opponents were Cleveland and Detroit. He needed time – even into the regular season – to shake off the rust. He did that with his full complement of receivers, a luxury he won't have this time around.

Favre has said he needs to get some live game action to get comfortable in the Vikings offense and the Seahawks will provide that test tonight at the Metrodome. The extent to which he can move the Vikings down the field, avoid pressure on his slowly improving ankle and be the same QB he was last year will be scrutinized as much as the performance of any other player on the field.

It isn't going to be easy for the gunslinger to get back in the saddle and lead the horses down the field, but this will be Favre's first significant action since returning to the Vikings, making his battle with "The Rust" an intriguing matchup to watch.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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