Who will make the team? Who will be sent to the Vikings practice squad? We won’t know for sure until Tuesday, but here are some players who made the most of their opportunity against the Denver Broncos.
Before I highlight some players who stood out to me, I’ll start by saying the game in general was pretty bland. I also have no idea how many spots were still up for grabs going into the last preseason game against the Denver Broncos. Nonetheless, speculation is always fun. So, here are five Vikings that I think added to their resumes for being kept.
The opening drive was pitiful for the Vikings defense. In fact, I considered Mike Boone for this article, since he is a former Viking. He carved us up on that first drive. I guess we showed resilience, however, as the Broncos went about 90 yards and left the field empty-handed.
This was in large part to Myles Dorn, a fourth-year player out of North Carolina. While most of our defense looked lethargic (I’m looking at you, backup defensive line), Dorn was very active. He had a great hit that would have stopped the drive, but instead was called for a personal foul. It was a bad call, so I’m still giving Dorn credit.
Then, with the Broncos knocking at the door, Myles Dorn broke up a pass that landed in the hands of rookie Luigi Vilain. A clutch takeaway that Dorn deserves a lot of credit for creating. Then, on a late 3rd and 5 for the Broncos, Dorn laid a huge hit on the receiver to break up the play and cause an incompletion. I’m not sure where Dorn is on the Vikings radar at the moment, but this last preseason game could have helped him make the team.
The Vikings offensive line was fine in Denver on Saturday night. The running backs were typically going in the right direction, and the pass protection was solid. In fact, when there was pressure it was due to Sean Mannion holding the ball way too long.
Chris Reed played two key roles. He started the game at right guard, and later played some series at center. I wouldn’t say he dominated, but he looked serviceable at both positions. That versatility is important for the Vikings entering the season. Especially with the struggles that Garrett Bradbury has had at center, we may need more options than normal. Austin Schlottman, a former Bronco, started the game at center and played okay, but to me did not show enough to be the clear cut backup to Bradbury. Chris Reed’s versatility could be the reason he makes the final 53-man Vikings roster.
This is kind of a stretch, but hear me out. I already mentioned that the game itself was quite bland. And outside of a handful of players, the Vikings defense struggled mightily, so I am looking for guys that caught my eye.
Jalen Nailor definitely caught my eye. He only had one catch on six targets, but it was his routes that grabbed my attention. He beat a CB by a step on a long pass play that Mannion missed. And then there was an out route that would have been a first down, but Mannion missed him again. Notice the trend? On the deep pass specifically, Nailor looked like the downfield burner we drafted him to be. The competition for wide receiver spots on this team is intense, so Nailor is still on the bubble, but I think this last preseason game was a net positive towards his Vikings resume.
Let’s stay within the aforementioned Vikings wide receiver room and look at Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Some may say he already had a spot on the roster, but I still think he needed to show out in order to hold off some of the other guys.
And show out he did. He had three catches for 63 yards. His statline in this regard is not “showing out” per se, but his first catch of the game was a sweet grab that gave the Vikings a third down conversion. It was another poor Mannion pass, but Smith-Marsette made an experienced catch at its high point. Then, he added a nice 21-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. Again, he wasn’t exactly spectacular, but he looked the part, and was ready for his moments to make plays. This game against the Broncos should only enhance his standing with the Vikings coaching staff.
The new YAC master? Zach Davidson had four catches for 47 yards, and my completely unfounded assumption of a statistic is that at least 30 of those yards were YAC. The numbers themselves aren’t exactly impressive, but he had a nice burst for a tight end after he made the catches.
We all hope that Irv Smith, Jr. is everything we’ve been waiting for, but you still need to have depth. I am not sure how many TEs will make the Vikings roster, but this game in Denver definitely helped out Zach Davidson’s cause.
Ten Takeaways From Vikings Preseason Game Two Against The 49ers
You’ll notice I only had one defensive player on this list. This was in part due to the fact that I thought the defense played poorly as a whole. Specifically, our pass rush was seemingly non-existent. This does not bode well if our starters suffer multiple injuries in season. I will say, though, that Brian Asamoah still looks awesome. I would have included him on this list, but I can’t imagine he is in any danger of not making the 53-man roster.
Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond had some decent throws between the two of them, but were largely ineffective. I do not believe either of them truly helped their chances of avoiding the practice squad.
Greg Joseph hit a 58 yard field goal against the Denver Broncos. He is dominating this preseason. In my 5 bold predictions article I said that Joseph is on a Pro Bowl path. This is continually being confirmed for me, and I think he could play a significant, positive role for us throughout the season.
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