The Vikings will start off the preseason with the new-look Broncos on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
To Minnesota fans, Denver might not look that new. Teddy Bridgewater, Mike Boone, Brett Jones and Shamar Stephen are all on the Broncos roster after playing for the Vikings earlier in their careers. There’s also George Paton and Kelly Kleine, two ex-members of the Minnesota front office, who have since left for Denver.
So there will be plenty of former Vikings to watch throughout this week when the two teams face off in joint practices and the preseason opener. Here are some current Vikings to watch:
Osborn may have disappointed on special teams in 2020, but the Vikings second-year player is impressing as a wideout during training camp. This week will be a good time to see if Osborn can do it against a Denver team that could surprise people in 2021. If he thrives during the joint practices and the preseason game, he could not only be looking at a roster spot, but he may have a big role in 2021.
Similar to Osborn, Smith-Marsette has to impress this week. Unlike Osborn, Smith-Marsette has not been a standout during training camp. In fact, Mike Zimmer said the rookie has to get better at special teams:
“If he wants to make the team, that’s part of his job description,” Zimmer told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.
So there is pressure on the rookie to succeed. Some big plays against the Broncos could certainly help his case, but he also needs to do the little things right on special teams.
Darrisaw finally came back from an injury and participated in practice, with pads, on Aug. 4, per ESPN’s Courtney Cronin.
The rookie first-round pick has some catching up to do if he wants to beat out the veteran Rashod Hill for the starting spot. Darrisaw doing well in a live setting against another team could help him rise through the ranks.
Davis is in a similar situation as Darrisaw. Both players were back in pads and participating in training camp last week after recovering from injuries. Davis also has some catching up to do if he wants a starting spot as a rookie. Guard Oli Udoh has been impressive, but Davis could outshine him when Denver comes to town.
Mond was activated off the COVID-19/Reserve list on Tuesday. It’s hard to say what his availability will be this week, but he has a long way to go before he is the backup. Mond needs to have a big week against Denver in both the joint practices and the preseason to rise above Browning.
K Greg Joseph has made 20 of 26 field goals in training camp as of Aug. 8, per Vikings team reporter Eric Smith.
But now, the kicker competition officially starts with Riley Patterson returning from the PUP list.
Watts got a lot of first-team reps amid Michael Pierce’s absence. He has been getting consistent and emphatic praise from the Vikings coaching staff, according to The Athletic’s Arif Hasan.
Watts was tabbed by some to break out in 2020, when he had the potential to seize a big role due to a lack of depth on the interior defensive line. In 2021, the Vikings are pretty deep on the interior, but that doesn’t mean Watts is out of the rotation. If he keeps playing like this, he could be an important player still.
Nwangwu has stood out for his speed this offseason. This week, he can utilize that speed against another team. He has a chance to be the Vikings third-string running back. He also has a shot at either of the return man spots.