MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green has always played up the importance of a good preseason record to pave the way for a positive start when the games actually count.
So with the Vikings (0-2) winless in the preseason, does Friday's game against the Arizona Cardinals (1-1) at the Metrodome take on a sense of desperation?
That depends on who you ask and when you pose the question.
"When the preseason is over, then we will concentrate on the regular season," Green said this week before training camp broke Wednesday in Mankato. "Our number one priority in the preseason is to pick the best 53 players and get them to work well together and you try to win along the way."
Just 2 1/2 weeks ago, Green sang a different song: "We didn't play well last year in the preseason, and a 2-2 preseason was very indicative of a 2-4 start."
This year's preseason start is Minnesota's worst since 1981, when the Vikings finished 7-9. Green's preseason record is 23-14 and he's had only one losing preseason in his eight seasons.
Three days of intense two-a-days this week showed that the Vikings aren't taking their 0-2 mark lightly.
"Even though it's just the preseason, this is a big one for us and we need to go out and get a win," said center Matt Birk.
Cardinals coach Vince Tobin said he's concerned about defending receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter and he knows Green and offensive coordinator Sherm Lewis won't hold anything back in trying to win.
"They've got big-play people who make big plays, and they've scored a lot of points," Tobin said. "That puts a lot of pressure on the defenses, because you can have seven or eight good plays, then all at once you give them a 30-yarder or 40-yarder and they've scored."
The Vikings cut 11 players on Monday, eight days before they were required to do so by the NFL, because Green found the huge roster difficult to manage.
"Some veterans, but mostly young guys, were let go," Green said. "We are now at about 70 guys and with injured players, it's about 67 players. That is probably the right amount that we can play in a preseason game."
Starters on both teams will play the entire first half and start the third quarter.
"Now the issue is getting some guys into new roles and getting some depth, which I think is the biggest challenge that any preseason team faces," Green said.
The Cardinals were forced by rain to practice in the Walkup Skydome at Northern Arizona University earlier this week.
"It's not nice to come in on turf. I hate turf," said quarterback Jake Plummer.
The teams meet again Nov. 12 at the Metrodome and it's not too early to look to that game, Plummer said.
"We want to have the reputation of having some dirty guys out there," he said. "Not dirty but guys that are going to get up in you and block you every day. You want to have a mean streak where you go out there and you hit guys in the mouth legally and let them know 'Hey, we're going to come after you all four quarters."'
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.