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The Vikings-Broncos exhibition Saturday night features more intrigue than the typical preseason opener.
Denver QB Case Keenum gets to face his former teammates whom he helped reach the NFC championship before management dumped him in favor of Kirk Cousins Cody Whitehair Jersey , the jewel of this winter's free agent class.
Keenum said Wednesday he's eager to face the Vikings.
"Definitely. I mean, I got a firsthand view of how good a defense it is, so I know we've got our work cut out for us. It's going to be a great test. I'm excited to go compete against a really, really talented defense," Keenum said.
Keenum insisted he holds no grudges , either.
"No, man. I love all those guys," he said. "This Saturday it's going to be a competition and we're going to get after it. I know those guys are going to be jacked to get back on the field just like I'm jacked to get back on the field. But, no. No bad feelings."
Keenum went 12-4 for the Vikings last season after injuries to Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, but Minnesota moved on in the offseason, winning the Cousins sweepstakes with, among other things, a strong roster, a sparkling new stadium and a fully guaranteed contract for million over three years.
Keenum signed a two-year John Johnson Jersey , million deal in Denver.
Asked what he admires about Keenum's game after watching film of last season's surge, Cousins said, "Any time you win 13 games and a playoff game you're doing an outstanding job as a quarterback, but I've watched Case going back to his days in Houston running Coach (Gary) Kubiak's offense, watching him in L.A. He won that job in training camp, and here, he's just a winner."
Cousins said Keenum does all the little things right: "There's a lot of positives to his game."
It's just that the Vikings found more to like in Cousins' repertoire.
"Case was a winner," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "He won a lot of games and moved well in the pocket. He's a great teammate and made some outstanding plays for us.
"With Kirk, he's been as advertised. He throws the deep ball well, very accurate, and takes charge of the offense."
Cousins and Keenum figure to play a series or two Saturday night, then give way to their backups, and that's where the real intrigue comes in.
Trevor Siemian won the Broncos' starting job each of the last two summers but was traded to Minnesota after the Broncos signed Keenum.
Zimmer said Siemian's 24 starts over the last two years and high IQ made him a perfect fit as Cousins' backup.
Siemian said Keenum's short stint in Minnesota is indicative of how important it is to have a capable backup ready to step in and run the offense should the starter get hurt.
"Case here, Nick Foles in Philly Cole Beasley Jersey ," Siemian said. "Yeah, I think you're one play away. My job is to prepare as if I'm starting and knock on wood, if I'm called upon, I'll be ready to go."
Siemian, however, might not even get as much work this weekend as another former Broncos QB, Kyle Sloter, who signed with the Vikings a year ago after a surprisingly strong camp in Denver.
The Broncos are still holding out hope that Paxton Lynch is a late-bloomer and not a first-round bust.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph declared Lynch and Chad Kelly would battle it out for the backup job this summer, yet Lynch has worked exclusively with the second-teamers while Kelly has worked with the third-stringers so far.
Kelly, however, has consistently outshined Lynch and was clearly the superior quarterback in a recent scrimmage.
Lynch figures to get the bulk of the snaps Saturday night for Denver, and his performance could go a long way in determining if the Broncos need to consider signing a veteran backup for Keenum.
Notes: DE Clinton McDonald was getting his troublesome shoulder checked out again Wednesday. ... Joseph said TE Jeff Heuerman, who has missed all but one day of camp with a sore left knee, doesn't necessarily have to rush back to make the roster. "It's early John Elway Jersey ," Joseph said. "I wouldn't say that right now. That's extreme."
TAMPA, Fla. — The shutdown line for the Tampa Bay Lightning outscored New Jersey’s top scoring line in Game 1 of the opening-round series between the teams.
That’s a trend the Lightning look to continue heading into Saturday afternoon as the teams meet in Game 2 at Amalie Arena.
In Tampa Bay’s 5-2 victory over New Jersey in the first game of the series, the Lightning held MVP candidate Taylor Hall to one point at even strength, and that was a gift-wrapped goal in the second period. Hall, along with linemates Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri, was kept in check with five shots on goal combined between the three, four of which came from Hall.
“I think we were a little hesitant making the plays through the neutral zone, and we weren’t moving our feet as much as we need to,” Palmieri said. “In the second, we showed how effective we are when we’re playing fast and getting pucks up and in and competing on pucks in the offensive zone. That’s what brought a lot of scoring chances and a lot of momentum, so it’s something we have to focus on next game.”
That top line of New Jersey’s saw a lot of Tampa Bay’s trio of Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson during the first game, with just over 12 minutes of head-to-head play at even strength during the game.
But the Lightning’s second line is not just a shutdown line, it’s Tampa Bay’s second offensive line. That proved a pivotal point in the first game as the Lightning built a two-goal lead heading in the second period with goals from Palat and Johnson Myles Jack Jersey , the later coming with 29 seconds left in the period. Both goals came while Hall’s line was on the ice.
“As a coach and a team you are trying to put the players out there against the guys you think they can have success,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “It was big for us that they scored twice. “Clearly when you watch Taylor Hall play, he’s a dangerous player, we can’t sleep on Hischier and Palmieri either, they are a good line together. That was a big confidence builder for our guys to get two … as a whole I felt they did a really good job against them.”
Palat did put a pass right on to the stick of Hall in the second period for New Jersey’s first goal, but it was an otherwise quiet night.
“I saw they tried to put this line out when our line was there … It’s playoff hockey I guess,” said Hischier, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. “It’s part of it to match the lines, and as a player it shouldn’t bother you. You have to keep going and play the same way. When you get frustrated that’s when they win so you have to keep going.”
It’s the type of advantage the top seeded Lightning hold when it comes to overall depth that Tampa Bay’s top line of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and J.T. Miller had a quiet night, but the Lightning were able to build a three-goal lead and closing things out.
“We have four well-balanced lines that have had some chemistry during the regular season and it’s carried over here to the first game,” Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman said. “We have to keep that going.”Collin Sexton Jersey
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