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Three Interesting Vikings Takeaways From Opening Preseason Game

The Minnesota Vikings played their first football game in over 200 days -- albeit a preseason opener.


Minnesota had a solid first-half performance holding Drew Lock and the Seattle Seahawks to only seven points, while Vikings' tight end Nick Muse had a fantastic touchdown grab, and Greg Joseph kicked a field goal.


However, it was all Seahawks in the second half. The team scored 17 points to Minnesota's three, with Seattle winning the first preseason outing 24-13.


So who stood out for the Vikings? How does the Brian Flores-led defense look so far? Here are a few takeaways from our first look at the 2023 Minnesota Vikings.


Chandler Shines Again


Starting running back Alexander Mattison did not play the preseason opener on Thursday, so carries were shared between Ty Chandler, Abram Smith and rookie DeWayne McBride.


Out of that group, Ty Chandler stole the show. The 25-year-old finished the night with 11 carries for 41 yards. He also caught four passes and picked up 29 receiving yards.


Many on 'Vikings' Twitter' were quick to slot Chandler into the RB2 slot on the team's depth chart.




This isn't the first time the former Tar Heel stole the show in a preseason game. Chandler was the leading rusher in all three preseason matchups last season, including a 50-yard rushing effort against the Las Vegas Raiders.


I believe Chandler proved he is ready for a larger role on the 53-man roster and should be considered a steady second option behind Mattison.


Vikings' Defense Has A Good Start


It's important to remember this is only a preseason game, and most of the starters on either team did not play a single snap. But how can Vikings fans not be excited by what we saw from the defensive unit?


Minnesota allowed the league's second-most yards in 2022, along with the fourth-most points. Any positives on that side of the ball will have fans thrilled.


It was great to see Lewis Cine back on the field following his scary injury last season. He finished the night with three tackles.


Another player who stood out to me was undrafted free agent linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. The former All-American recorded six total tackles, including four solo.


Linebacker Luiji Vilain arguably had one of the more surprising performances. The 25-year-old Canadian had three tackles, one sack and three quarterback hits.


Vilain was listed as the third outside linebacker on the team's first unofficial depth chart earlier this week, behind Danielle Hunter and Pat Jones II.


Thayer Thomas also had the Viking's only interception of the night, coming in the third quarter.


Overall, I liked what I saw from most of the players on defense, and I'm very excited to see what else Brian Flores has in store.


Mullens Did His Job


For the first time in what feels like forever, there was a Minnesota Vikings preseason game without Sean Manion at quarterback.


It was certainly refreshing to see Nick Mullens under center, and he had a considerably good outing.


Mullens played the entire first half, finishing 14-of-20 for 139 yards, one passing touchdown and a quarterback rating of 106.0.


From what I saw, he made smart decisions and wasn't trying to force anything that wasn't there.


In the end, Mullens proved to me that he can be a reliable starter for a game or two should something happen to Kirk Cousins.


Final Thoughts


As I mentioned above, it's important to remember that many of the players we watched on Thursday won't be making a massive impact come the regular season.


However, Ivan Pace Jr. and Luiji Vilain had performances that could make the coach's decision more difficult. Wide receiver Jalen Reagor also had a notable night, catching all four passes thrown his way and ending with 55 yards.


Kicker Greg Joseph and punter Ryan Wright both had a good game. Joseph was perfect with two field goals and one extra point. Meanwhile, Wright averaged 45 yards per punt and landed one inside the 20.


There's still a lot of preseason and training camp action to come and plenty of areas that could still use improvement. But there are many reasons for Vikings fans to be optimistic as we inch closer to the start of the 2023 regular season.



 

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