OK, let's move on. Sunday is a big day for Minnesota Vikings fans. After sevens months of waiting, we get to see our football team play after turning over a good portion of its roster (which is a good thing because the team stunk in 2011). And there are few things I'm interested to observe in this game. Such as ....
Christian Ponder's development: No other issue is more important than seeing the second year starting quarterback show real, tangible progress. If Ponder improves the way you'd expect a highly drafted, highly athletic QB to, the Vikings could be much better than most experts, and fans, expect. It could go the other way, too. It's been written already that the second year is a telling one for how good a young NFL quarterback will be. By the end of the year, we should have a pretty good idea if Ponder is the answer – or not – to the Vikings long-standing QB woes. On Sunday we could be witnessing the beginning of an era of long-term prosperity for the Vikings. Or it could be the beginning of the end of Ponder's career as a starting NFL quarterback.
Adrian Peterson's recovery: Maybe Peterson will only get five carries or so, but I'm confident he will play against Jacksonville. Is he good as new after offseason surgery and rehabilitation to his shredded left knee? I think we'll be able to tell right away how much the injury and surgery has affected (or not) one of the game's great talents. I'm nervous.
Matt Kalil, et al: I think 1998 was the last time I didn't hold my breath when a Vikings QB dropped back to pass. Whether Kalil is the next Joe Thomas or the next Robert Gallery isn't the only concern along the Oline. Moving Charlie Johnson from left tackle to left guard was supposed to be a boon for Charlie and the unit, but Johnson hasn't received rave reviews for his play. Meanwhile, Brandon Fusco is set to start at right guard but the Vikings are already indicating Geoff Schwartz could take over if Fusco struggles. That doesn't sound like a vote of confidence for how Fusco has looked so far. Consistently solid line play for the first time in recent memory will help Ponder's development. I think this is going to be a much improved unit in 2012. I just don't know how long it will take to get there.
Josh Robinson, Harrison Smith, et al: Goodbye, Asher Allen. So long, Cedric Griffin. Have a seat on the bench, Jamarca Sanford. Man, am I glad those guys won't be starting in 2012. This could very well be Antoine Winfield's last year as a Viking as well. General manager Rick Spielman doesn't have much use for veterans in their 30s as he goes about retooling the roster. Anyway, Chris Cook, Mistral Raymond, Robinson and Smith – these are the players who will have to keep guys like Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings and their ilk under control in 2012 and perhaps well beyond that. Sunday will give us our first look at how a younger, taller and faster Vikings secondary will function in the NFL (if this group struggles facing Blaine Gabbert and the Jags, I'm going to be depressed).
Blair Walsh: The rookie kicker didn't induce as many touchbacks on kickoffs as we thought, but Walsh did prove to be pretty reliable on his field goals during the preseason. But now the games count for real and every kick Walsh attempts will mean so much more than it did in those scrimmages. Walsh will be an important offensive weapon for the Vikings. One thing the first-team offense showed during the preseason is that they could move the ball between the 20s, but had trouble producing touchdowns in the red zone. With Ponder still young and inexperienced, with an offensive line that's got two new starters and another guy playing a new position, and with a weak wide receiving group that lacks quality red zone threats, Walsh could be kicking a lot of field goals this season.
During the Giants-Cowboys game I tried live tweeting for the first time. The main reason I created an account (my Twitter handle: @KickassblogVike) was to market this blog a bit better and live tweeting certainly helps get the word out. But I found the process really impacted my viewing experience. As I crafted my witty (hopefully) and insightful (hopefully) tweets, I found myself constantly behind in the action, missing plays, just really unfocused. And that's OK when I'm watching a game between two teams I'm not emotionally invested in. But it won't do for a Vikings game.
So I don't know about this live tweeting while the Vikes play. I enjoy the interaction with other tweeters and it's fun reading the variety of reactions to the games. It's also kind of a buzz when someone responds to one of your tweets or retweets it (I feel so cool). But I don't know if I can multitask like that during a Vikings game. I'm too into it. I'll find out tomorrow, I guess, how it will work and if it will work.
And with all that rambling, it's time to watch some Vikings football. How do I feel about that? I'll let the New York Jets Bart Scott take it from here.