Players To Watch: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Kansas City Chiefs take on the Minnesota Vikings tonight at the Metrodome.  With weather not playing a factor — unlike last week at Arrowhead — we should get a better idea of how far along both teams are this preseason.

Before every game we present you with three players (Offense, Defense and Special Teams) from each team to keep your eyes on.

Chiefs

Offense: Brodie Croyle

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Sure, Matt Cassel will be the focus of most Chiefs fans after his lackluster debut, but this is a very big game for Croyle.  He has a chance to cement his spot as Cassel’s backup with an impressive performance against a good defense in what should be a rowdy atmosphere — even in the second half — which is rare for a preseason game.  If there was ever a time when a preseason game could masquerade itself as a regular season game it’s tonight in Minnesota.  Croyle still needs to prove that he can take a beating and keep getting up, something he very well could have to deal with a lot tonight.

Defense: Turk McBride

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I really think that McBride could have trouble making this team.  For a while I figured he would be given more rope than the rest of the defense since he was one of the players changing positions.  But with the emergence of guys like Jovan Belcher, Andy Studebaker and Corey Mays, all of a sudden the linebacking corps is getting crowded with “locks” for the final 53.  McBride, a second round pick in 2007, has struggled in his transition to OLB from DE and needs to show some progress against a solid offense tonight.  I don’t expect him to hit the unemployment line tomorrow if he has a bad game, but he has to start turning heads soon or he will find himself on the outside looking in.

Special Teams: Taurus Johnson

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With the Chief still trying to find someone to return kicks, Todd Haley turned to Johnson this week, giving him the most reps — along with Maurice Leggett — on the last day of practice in River Falls.  With 10 receivers currently in camp, Johnson will have to excel in the return game if he has any hopes of making the final roster.  With the amount of fringe players the Chiefs are deal with right now, without special teams skills he might not even find his way onto the practice squad.  The Chiefs need a return man and Johnson needs to find a way onto the roster… It could be the perfect match.

Vikings

Offense: Tarvaris Jackson, QB

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Yes, the Vikings have other quarterbacks on the roster.  And after the signing of Brett Favre, there are many in Minnesota that feel Jackson shouldn’t be one of them.  This week Sage Rosenfels is sitting out to rest an ankle injury.  So with Favre only playing a couple series, Jackson is in a position to stake his claim to a roster spot — be that in Minnesota or elsewhere.

Defense: Benny Sapp, CB

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Since (thankfully) the Chiefs will not have to deal with Jared Allen as he rests an injury, we can look out for another former-Chief.  Sapp is currently battling Karl Paymah, Marcus McCauley and Asher Allen for the nickel job.  Sapp played well for the Vikings last season and is looking to lock down a spot on one of the better defenses in the league.

Special Teams: Percy Harvin, KR

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If you’ve never seen Harvin play, you are in for quite a treat if he does indeed make his NFL debut tonight.  Whenever he is on the field, he is immediately the most explosive player (yes, even when Adrian Peterson is out there).  The question will be if he can take the physical wear and tear of the NFL and he should get a pretty nice introduction to that during the opening kick off.  Aside from his special teams work, also keep an eye out Harvin to show up in the Wildcat.

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