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The final preseason game is typically the least impactful in terms of headlines but it can be the most impactful in terms of the roster. Only a handful of jobs in Minnesota can be considered decided already. The rest will come down to Thursday night’s game against Miami. Here are the main stories to keep an eye on in the last game before the regular season kicks off.
Extra time for the first team
Game four of the preseason is traditionally when coaches fill out the depth chart. The starters rarely play more than one series. Due to the poor showing by the first team one week ago, head coach Mike Zimmer stated he was considering giving the starters extended time against the Miami Dolphins.
Who grabs the extra receiver spot
Four receivers are locks to make the roster: Stephon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Michael Floyd and Laquon Treadwell. With Floyd starting the season with a four-game suspension, it is likely the Vikings enter the season with six receivers on the roster That leaves two spots up for grabs.
Jarius Wright has the most experience of the remaining receivers but he played only eight snaps in the third preseason game. Rookie seventh round draft choice Stacy Coley impressed greatly and another good showing may lock him into the fifth spot. The sixth will likely come down to how they contribute on special teams.
Another option for Zimmer is to keep an extra tight end rather than a receiver. Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan and Kyle Carter are at the top of the depth chart at the moment and seem to have their spots locked in. Sixth round pick Bucky Hodges was a dynamic pass catcher at Virginia Tech so expect some extra run for him against Miami.
Fleshing out the Defensive line
With Sharrif Floyd on PUP, Minnesota needs a new face to step up and they appear to have found one: No one on the Vikings front seven excelled under the radar like rookie Jaleel Johnson. The former Iowa standout has likely played his way into the rotation at defensive tackle and may have driven out Datone Jones. Jones, who signed with Minnesota for one year, $3.75 million in March, has struggled to produce while Johnson and Will Sutton have flashed their potential.
Veterans Tom Johnson and Linval Joseph have their spots secure, as likely does Shamar Stephen.
The Kicking Battle
Kai Forbath will probably handle kicking duties in this game. Marshall Koehn took every kick last week against San Francisco and was largely impressive; though he missed a 47-yard attempt, he was good from 58 and converted all three extra points. The battle between these two has been dead even during the preseason and will likely be decided tonight.