Vikings Notebook: Preseason Game 3

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: Taylor Heinicke (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: Taylor Heinicke (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – AUGUST 27: Sam Bradford (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – AUGUST 27: Sam Bradford (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /


  • The Vikings first string offense looked shaky in the first half. In fact, the first two drives were downright pitiful. The first drive resulted in a three and out, while the second drive stalled out after two big sacks. Both sacks were given up by tackle Mike Remmers, who’s noticeably struggled in pass protection throughout the preseason.
  • Bradford threw a few balls to receivers in bad situations resulting in huge hits. In my view, he forced a lot of throws into tight windows rather than surveying the whole field to find the open man. He also made a poor decision before halftime throwing a long ball to Adam Thielen, who was in the middle of the field. Getting tackled at the 6-yard line, the Vikings couldn’t spike the ball in time to set up a field goal. If he had thrown the ball away, the Vikings would have had a shot at a long field goal.
    • Overall, Bradford went 17-for-21 for 134 yards. He ends the preseason 29-for-39 for 264 yards, including no touchdowns and interceptions.
    • The first team offense only scored three points the entire preseason. Cause for concern?
  • Dalvin Cook rushed five times for 17 yards, but his most noteworthy play came on a play where he picked up a blitzing defender in pass protection. On the play, Cook came from the left side of Bradford in the shotgun to block the defender coming from the right side. The block was encouraging to see from the rookie, although Remmers gave up a sack on the play.
  • Latavius Murray made his first appearance after recovering from an ankle injury. He looked solid in pass protection as well as comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield. He ended the day with two carries for 6 yards and two catches for 10 yards. I see the Vikings using the big back in short yardage situations and as a pass protector out of the backfield.
  • Jerick McKinnon had the best day out of the Vikings trifecta of backs. He had seven carries for 27 yards to go along with four catches for 31 yards and a kick return touchdown. He’s definitely the change-of-pace back for the Vikings and I like him in an 8-to-10 play role.
  • Riley Reiff was back with the first unit, alongside Alex Boone who was out last week. Mike Remmers stole the show though after giving up a couple sacks in the second drive. He also was called for an illegal formation penalty that took away a first down on the Vikings’ third drive ending in a punt. To the average observer, the starting offensive line looked awful, but I’d say Remmers was the main cause for concern. Maybe Rashod Hill should get a look at right tackle next week?
    • After the first couple of drives, the offensive line looked better. I thought they played their best once Pat Elflein came in at center with Nick Easton moving to left guard. That being said, Alex Boone will be the starter at left guard.
    • As for the center battle between Elflein and Easton, I still think Elflein comes out on top with Easton being the first man off the bench at center or guard.
    • Rashod Hill continues to hold his own whenever thrown into action. Tough to say why he has yet to get more first-team looks at right tackle.
  • With Kyle Rudolph out, David Morgan II started, but Kyle Carter and Bucky Hodges also saw time in the first half. Hodges made a catch near the sidelines before halftime, but costed the team a couple seconds by not getting out of bounds right away. The extra seconds proved costly when the Vikings ran out of time to spike the ball for a field goal opportunity.
    • As for Carter, he caught a 16-yard touchdown on a perfect throw from Case Keenum. Nevertheless, he showed great hands on a contested catch in the end zone. Mike Zimmer has said great things about Carter, so I would say he’s heading towards a spot as the fourth tight end on the roster.
    • The Vikings’ tight ends continue to show their athletic ability and give great depth to a team that is seemingly focused on getting the big pass-catchers the ball.
  • Laquon Treadwell played for the first time this preseason and had a solid debut. He ended the game with 3 catches for 36 yards and was out there in three-receiver sets with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. After catching one pass in his rookie season, the three-catch performance is great to see. Hopefully, he can play a key role in the regular season.
    • As for Thielen and Diggs, the former was reliable catching five balls for 50 yards, while the latter had a rough day dropping two balls that helped stall a couple of drives.
  • Case Keenum was fantastic, throwing for 139 yards and two touchdowns. His best play came on his touchdown pass to Rodney Adams where he sidearmed the ball around an incoming defender. He has hold of the backup job and gives the Vikings a solid option to go to in case of a Bradford injury.
    • Taylor Heinicke led the game-winning drive while playing with bad ribs. The drive was definitely his best of the preseason and showed that he’s deserving of the third quarterback spot. I wasn’t sure up until this point, but he delivered today.
  • Again, Stacy Coley was the most impressive backup receiver catching four passes for 76 yards, including a 39-yard strike from Keenum. He also set up the 1-yard touchdown rush by Terrell Newby after being interfered with in the end zone on the prior play. The only downfall of his night was not getting out of bounds at the end of the fourth quarter. Zimmer was then forced to use his last timeout, although the Vikings still came out on top.
    • Rodney Adams totaled three catches for 35 yards and a touchdown. He definitely has playmaking ability, but he’s been outshined by Coley in the preseason. I still think the Vikings look to find a way to keep him on the roster, maybe at the expense of Jarius Wright. The veteran didn’t play against the 49ers, so read into that how you may.