I was unable to connect with Leif Ericson or Erik the Red to discuss Vikings football but by great Oden's beard I was able to track down Eric Thompson of the Daily Norseman to talk about this weekend's match up at FedEx.
1. Lets get the soft ball out of the way. Adrian Peterson... A lot of people are labeling this a "revenge" game, which I personally think is ridiculous. Is there any extra motivation for AD this week to have a big game in the stadium and against the team where his knee blew up last year?
Eric: Adrian Peterson is always motivated. He trained like a madman for 8 months to be the opening day starter after the devastating injury in Washington last Christmas Eve. I was able to cover Vikings training camp this summer and he was constantly training like a maniac while the rest of his teammates went through the motions in walk-throughs. He wants to prove that he's still the best every time he walks on the field. I honestly don't believe that Peterson views this as a "revenge" game; it's just another game to showcase that he's still one of the NFL's best.
2. Obviously the biggest concern for Skins fans is the health of Robert Griffin III. Because of that the fist name that comes to mind is Jared Allen. Beyond Allen who are some defensive players to look for in the Vikings pass rush?
Eric: Brian Robison, the bookend opposite of Allen, seemed to be poised for a big year. He finished 2011 with 8 sacks and really established himself as a force to be reckoned with. But unfortunately for the Vikings he has been rather quiet for most of the 2012 season. He has caused a fair share of hurries and had a few knockdowns but he only has one sack to show for it thus far. The big surprise has been Everson Griffen, who is tied with Allen for the team lead in sacks despite playing far fewer snaps. Of course he'll be playing with a heavy heart due to the passing of his mother this week--to be honest, I'm shocked that he's playing at all. But we all know how emotions can play a big part in the NFL, so Griffen is definitely one to watch on Sunday.
3. There have been whispers of Percy Harvin having a bum hammy this week. How is his health? Especially given the monster season he is having. Also Jerome Simpson has been a nice addition, who else should we look for to go after the Skins weak secondary?
Eric: I'm more concerned about the health of Simpson than the health of Harvin. Simpson has been battling some leg weakness caused by back problems and it sounds like he's still questionable to play on Sunday. Harvin will be out there, and he'll most likely terrorize the Redskins defense in a variety of ways. He lines up all over the field and gets the ball in such a variety of ways that he's always tough to defend. Watch out for tight end Kyle Rudolph as well--he has been quiet the past couple weeks but he's still one of Christian Ponder's favorite targets. Rudolph's size and great hands make him a great red zone target--so much so that we've started calling him "Rudolph the Red Zone Reindeer" at Daily Norseman. He could have a big game if Washington hones in on shutting down AP and Harvin.
4. Last year we saw Christian Ponder get injured against the Skins. (Please don't unleash Joe Webb on us again!) How have you seen Ponder improve and develop since the last time these two teams met.
Eric: I love how much Joe Webb strikes fear into the hearts of opponents! Here's a hint regarding Webb--make him pass. He's definitely an electric runner, but wow did he look awful throwing the ball in the preseason. As for Ponder, I hate to use clichés, but you have to throw out the old "maturity" and "poise" buzzwords when you talk about him. He's simply making smarter decisions with the ball this year. If a read isn't there, he progress to the next instead of throwing into a tight spot. Or he uses is incredibly underrated scrambling ability--if you saw that TD run against San Francisco, you know how dangerous he can be when he runs. The final cliché that applies to Ponder is that he takes what the defense gives him. The Vikings have been criticized of being a "dink and dunk" offense so far, but if you're dinking and dunking up and down the field, it's just as effective as the home run plays. (And much less risky.)
5. Give us some played we may not have heard of on each side of the ball and what's your prediction for the game?
Eric: On offense, keep an eye on the receiving duo of Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu. They'll almost bore you to death with their short possession routes, but they have been coming up with a lot of crucial third down receptions this year. They definitely aren't big play threats but they can keep the sticks moving.