The Steelers host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Heinz Field. Or after Monday's impressive win over the Saints, should we say...the high-powered Minnesota Vikings? Get to know them a little better as BTSC previews the Norsemen of the NFC.
*Denotes probable starter
*No. 8 QB Sam Bradford
The first overall pick in the 2010 draft has seemed to have found a home in the Twin Cities. Against New Orleans, Bradford completed 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards. Three of those passes were for TDs against no interceptions. The 6'4" Oklahoma Sooner doesn’t have a cannon for an arm, but he throws with great accuracy and is an intelligent decision-maker. Even though Bradford is currently hampered by a bum knee, he is expected the play and the Steeler secondary will be tested.
Note: Case Keenum will start as Bradford is officially listed as out.
Other Vikings Quarterbacks to Note:
No. 7 Case Keenum
*No. 33 RB Dalvin Cook
The rookie from FSU lived up to his billing and debuted nicely against the Saints. Cook is fast. He topped out at nearly 21 mph according to the NFL's Next-Gen speed tracker on Monday. Cook is not a power back, but he is elusive and a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Cook carried the ball 22 times for 127 yards, including a 33-yarder in the opener.
Other Vikings Running Backs to Note:
No. 25 Latavius Murray, No. 21 Jerrick McKinnon, *No. 30 FB C.J. Ham
*No. 14 WR Stefon Diggs and *No. 19 WR Adam Thielen
The third-year pro from Good Counsel in Olney, Maryland has good size at 6' and impressive speed. Diggs had seven catches for 93 yards in the opener, two for touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the fourth-year player from Minnesota State, Thielen, is the second leading receiver in yards with 157 in the opener. The 6'2" Thielen is a big and sure-handed compliment to Diggs. The Steelers need to be careful with this dynamic duo.
Other Vikings Wide Receivers to Note:
No. 11 WR Laquon Treadwell, No. 17 WR Jarius Wright, No. 13 Stacy Coley, No. 12 Rodney Adams
*No. 82 TE Kyle Rudolph
Rudolph should be one of the more-heralded at his TE position in the NFL. Last week against New Orleans, "Big Country" snagged all three balls that came his way for 26 yards and a TD. Rudolph is always a red zone threat and his presence should be noted at all times.
Other Vikings Tight Ends to Note:
No. 89 David Morgan II, No. 81 Blake Bell
*No. 71 LT Riley Reiff
The revamped offensive line of the Vikings is anchored by Reiff, who came over from the Lions. Reiff grades out with Pro Football Focus as best among a unit that allowed very little pressure of Sam Bradford last week. Reiff will have his hands full as he is set to see plenty of T.J. Watt and James Harrison on Sunday.
Other Vikings Offensive Linemen to Note:
*No. 62 LG Nick Easton, *No. 65 *C Pat Elflein, *No. 61 RG Joe Berger, *No. 72 RT Mike Remmers, No. 78 Jeremiah Sirles
No. 98 NT Linval Joseph
Joseph received a $50M extension in August for good reason. The team's top run stuffer uses pure brute-force up front. It will be interesting to see Le'Veon Bell going up the middle on Joseph. PFF ranks Joseph as an above average DT.
Other Vikings Defensive Linemen to Note:
*No. 99 LDE Danielle Hunter, *No. 92 DT Tom Johnson, *No. 97 LDE Everson Griffin, No. 96 DE Brian Robison, No. 91 DE Stephen Weatherly, No. 94 DT Jaleel Johnson, No. 93 NT Shamar Stephan
*No. 55 MLB Anthony Barr
Barr is one of the most dynamic players on the Viking defense, but he is banged up with a bum hamstring. Against the Saints, the UCLA LB was all over the field with eight tackles. Despite missing practice Wednesday and Thursday, Barr returned on Friday in limited participation. If he can't go. Emmanuel Lamur will play in his place.
Other Vikings Linebackers to Note:
*No. 42 WLB Ben Gedeon, *No. 54 MLB Eric Kendricks, No. 59 LB Emmanuel Lamur, No. 40 LB Kentrell Brothers, No. 50 Eric Wilson
*No. 29 RCB Xavier Rhodes
Rhodes is a Pro Bowl corner for a reason. Sure he's tall at 6'2", but he's fast with excellent cover skills. A potential battle with Antonio Brown is a dream matchup, but one-on-one with Martavis Bryant would be intriguing as well. Rhodes is limited by a hip injury, but is still expected to play.
Other Vikings Defensive Backs to Note:
*No. 26 LCB Trae Waynes, *No. 34 SS Andrew Sendejo, *No. 22 FS Harrison Smith, No. 23 CB Terence Newman, No. 20 DB Mackensie Alexander, No. 27 S Jayron Kearse, No. 41 S Anthony Harris
*No. 2 K Kai Forbath
Forbath was three for three on field goals in the opener, but missed an extra point. The Viking kicker has a career FG% of 87.00%. Forbath has bounced around the league since 2010 and won a close battle with Marshall Koehn.
Other Vikings Special Teamers to Note:* No. 4 P Ryan Quigley, *No. 35 PR Marcus Sherels, *No. 21 KR Jerrick McKinnon, *No. 47 LS Kevin McDermott
Head Coach Mike Zimmer
From years as the defensive coordinator in Cincinnati, Zimmer knows the Steelers well. Quite well. Zimmer has earned respect among the league due to his reputation of toughness and bluntness. In three-plus years as the head man in Minnesota, Zimmer has a record of 27-22.
Other Vikings Special Teamers to Note:
Offensive Coordinator: Pat Shurmur
Defensive Coordinator: George Edwards
Special Teams Coach: Mike Priefer