EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - It is conventional wisdom in the NFL that the fourth and final exhibition game is for sitting the starters and letting long-shots battle for a roster spot.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer may buck that tradition this Thursday against Miami, after Sunday's comeback win against the San Francisco 49ers left him with a bad taste in his mouth. On Wednesday Zimmer hinted that his front liners might be dressed and playing in the final dress rehearsal.
"I've made up my mind, but I haven't told the team yet or anything like that," Zimmer told reporters. "I haven't told the coaches yet, either. After the other night I feel they should play, but we'll see."
Tops on the concern list is a first-team offense that has scored just three points in three games. The growth and unity of a newly assembled offensive line has been stunted by injury, but the bottom line is that QB Sam Bradford has been sacked five times, and under extreme pressure many more. Zimmer told reporters he has decided on who will start on the O-line, but will not reveal his decision at this time.
On the defensive side of the ball Sunday Zimmer's defense, considered the foundation of the Vikings, gave up 31 points and made journeyman quarterback Bryan Hoyer look like a Hall of Famer. Hoyer completed his first eight passes, which included two touchdowns, and was 12-17 for 176 yards.
Even if the starters don't play against the Dolphins Thursday, the next few days will be filled with drama and decisions as the Vikings and the rest of the NFL cut down their rosters from 90 to the regular season limit of 53.