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Viking View (09/03/2008)
By John Edstrom

All hinges on the passing attack

...we’ll see at Lambeau

Well fans, preseason is over; next Monday night against the Pack everyone will be firing live rounds. We must hope that Tarvaris Jackson will be the one on target rather than Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately, the late night hijinks of Bryant (Stay-Out-Sleep-Late) McKinnie have put an unwelcome twist into this matchup. He never seems to show the requisite mean streak until the nightclubs shut down. His replacement at the all-important left-tackle position will be Artis Hicks, whose porous play last year at right guard was infamous, and got him demoted in favor of Anthony Herrera early in the season.

Spin out of the Vikes camp has it that Hicks is a natural on the left side. If this isn’t true, a nightmare scenario could develop in which a series of topnotch right defensive ends scheduled early will pour in on the already gimpy Tarvaris Jackson, rendering him hors de combat with the season barely under way. Way to go Bryant – have another drink and by all means don’t leave the bar till closing when the scum-of-the-earth will be congregating in the parking lot, contemplating what hard cases they are.

Thankfully the Purple will have new acquisition Jared Allen raring to go at right defensive end next Monday night, while it is unsure whether his Cheesehead counterpart, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila’s sore knee will allow him to play. Hmm...Aaron Rodgers’ injury history has more chapters than Jackson’s although Rodgers has played only a fraction as many downs.

I see several big question marks hanging over the Purple this season starting, of course, with the play of Tarvaris Jackson, who must stay healthy and ramp up his game. This goes hand-in-hand with the question of Hicks’ play at left tackle. Next is at the cornerback position. I can’t think of a better all-around player at this spot than Antoine Winfield, who covers well and is a tackling machine. Much is made of the two Williamses in the middle, but when Winfield was hurt last season, run defense broke down. He has to stay healthy, and Cedric Griffin has to learn to cover the pass better. Last year when Marcus McCauley came in on passing downs, nothing good ever happened, because neither he nor Griffin defended well against the pass. It appears Charles Gordon will play the nickel this year. He has to cover better than McCauley did.

And what is going on with the running game and Adrian Peterson, the vaunted second year man who is touting a goal of 2,000 yards for this season? It was only preseason, but what we saw was not reassuring, which leads to the subject of Ryan Cook, who must break out this year as a right tackle or prove that his surprise choice high in the draft was a foolish reach. I think that’s about a 50-50 bet.

Last is the receiving corps, supposedly bolstered by the acquisition of Bernard Berrian and the maturing of Sidney Rice and Aundrae Allison. I was surprised to see Martin Nance, who was all over the place in preseason, cut in favor of Robert Ferguson. What did Ferguson last do for us?

It will be the success of the passing attack, or its lack, upon which this season hinges, and that should get a good test Monday night at Lambeau Field.



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