Welcome back to another season of Saints football. I know what you’re thinking, it’s finally here.
Weekly throughout the season, I’ll break away from regular Saints coverage and ask a writer who covers New Orleans’ opponent that week some questions about that team.
This week we welcome in Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com. Seifert joined ESPN.com in 2008 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for eight years. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and children.
He’s a good man for helping me out no such short notice so let’s give him our full attention. Grazie.
WWL-TV: Brett Favre missed his second straight training camp, yet last season he had a career-best season. Is there any reason to think he can't match what he did in 2009 this season?
Kevin Seifert, ESPN.com: Yes. Historically speaking, it’s going to be tough for Favre to match last year’s production. He was a Hall of Famer before last year, and 2009 was his best season ever. That should tell you about how unbelievable his final statistics were. Given his age, some of the injuries the Vikings have had at receiver and just the law of averages, it’s probably safe to say he’ll fall short of the 33-7 touchdown-interception ratio he had last year, for instance. He could still have a really good year. It’s just hard to imagine it being as good last year.
WWL-TV: One of the stories from the NFC championship game was turnovers and specifically fumbles. Have the Vikings done anything during preseason to get a better handle on the ball?
KS: The biggest issue is Adrian Peterson. He fumbled twice in that game and was responsible for a third when he couldn’t handle a red-zone handoff from Favre. This has been a big issue all winter, spring and summer in the Twin Cities. But Peterson skipped the team’s entire offseason workout program, and it’s unclear what steps if any he’s taken to curb his fumbling issues. He says he trying to be more cognizant of holding the ball high and not using it to brace his falls, but we’ll see.
WWL-TV: With Sidney Rice missing at least the first half of the season and Percy Harvin always an possible scratch because of migraines, who steps up on the outside for the Vikings and is this a concern in Minnesota?
KS: First, they think Harvin is over his latest episode of migraines. You’re right. The next round could come at any time. But right now things are quiet there. Still, the Vikings’ receiving corps took a big hit without Rice. They’ll look more to Bernard Berrian, who was slowed by a hamstring injury for much of last year, and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Peterson also could be a bigger threat catching passes out of the backfield.
WWL-TV: So much has been made about the Saints possible "dirty" play in the NFC championship game that folks seem to forget how good the Vikings defensive line is and played in that game. Do you expect Minnesota to come out with a little bit of "payback" in its mind for the hits on Brett Favre?
KS: I think all teams try to take out the opposing quarterback. The Saints are just a little more verbal and aggressive about it. The Vikings would love to put a few early hits on Drew Brees, but they know that officials are going to be watching closely, so they have to be careful about the 15-yard penalties. I don’t think anyone would be dumb enough to take a blatantly cheap shot, but who knows.
WWL-TV: How will the Vikings combat the Saints' prolific offense?
KS: They’re going to have a hard time with that. Their defensive secondary is depleted by injury, and for most of this week they practiced with three healthy cornerbacks. But they had the best pass rush in the NFL last season, so I think they’re hoping it will start there.