Much of the attention paid to the Tennessee Titans is due to receiver Michael Preston, as they take on the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night at Mall of America Field in the final preseason game of 2013.
In the three previous games, Preston has totaled eight catches for a team-high 144 yards and two touchdowns, but he still may be fighting for his roster spot with Tennessee already carrying Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, and Nate Washington, along with the promising Justin Hunter.
The 24-year-old has spent the last two years with the Titans, playing four games last season for five receptions for 59 yards. An injury to Wright, and Britt coming back from knee surgery might help Preston's case.
Third-string quarterback Rusty Smith is expected to play most of the game, with Mike Munchak resting Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Smith’s already gone 11-for-18 for 100 yards and one score, but like Preston he might not make the cut if the Titans decide to keep more depth at linebacker with Akeem Ayers spraining his ankle last week against Cincinnati.
Tennesee currently has four players listed on the depth chart at five positions: left defensive end, right defensive tackle, weakside and middle linebacker, and left corner. Where they decide to spread the wealth could mean Smith or Preston are out of job.
The Vikings too will limit their starters, but that’s due to injuries. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams has an issue with his knee, and fellow tackle Christian Ballard is out for personal reasons according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. They also said to watch out for linebacker Desmond Bishop, who was forced to sit out much of the preseason with an injury.
Minnesota has reportedly made most of their personnel decisions, but Joe Webb and Stephen Burton are in a battle for a receiver spot, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson could try to supplant Matt Cassel as the No. 2 quarterback.
Star running backs Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson should remain on the sidelines for both teams.
Coverage of the game starts at 8 p.m. ET and a live online stream is available by subscription on the NFL’s official site here.
The Vikings feed will be on KARE-TV, and Tennessee’s on WKRN-TV.
Betting Odds: Tennessee is favored by 3.5 points.
Over/Under: 38.5 points
Prediction: Minnesota 27 , Tennessee 10