First game auditions are over for the Minnesota Vikings, many starred and performed under the bright lights at TCF Bank Stadium, while a very sparse few did not play as hoped as Minnesota won their first preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. The quarterback position may have been the more popular positional viewing then any, Minnesota’s defense though, was under intense evaluation as well by the many in attendance. More than half the defense could boast new starters, with a rookie or two in the mix. The passing defense from the year before was a glaring issue that Mike Zimmer knew he needed to fix to create a successful defense, and has worked diligently with this years secondary, which became one of the highlights against the Raiders.
Matt Cassel creates separation from the rookie – The Vikings knew from the get go that they needed consistent play under center if they were to compete in the NFC North. Cassel provided the veteran touch needed to the offense, as they drove right down the field on the Raiders with ease, and capped it off with a yard touchdown jaunt from back up running back Matt Asiata. Cassel was on point with his passes, hitting the highly touted Cordarrelle Patterson a couple of times down the field, while also finding Greg Jennings and Rudolph to get them down at the Raiders one. Cassel made it look seemingly simple, Teddy Bridgewater on the other hand, had a bit of trouble seeing his first action in the NFL. The first round pick had trouble diagnosing the defense at certain points, surrendering two sacks and a fumble that was fortunately recovered by Vikings teammate, Matt Kalil. Teddy’s first play from scrimmage displayed his potential, as he rolled out on a play action and rifled it in for a completion along the sideline, though the play was called back by an offensive penalty. Second team reps were a bit shaky for Bridgewater, but should see some more first team reps in the coming preseason games.
Defense the highlight of the game against Raiders – Even though the Oakland Raiders did quite a job shutting themselves down on offense, Minnesota’s defense did not give them much leeway as well. Captain Munnerlyn kicked things off on the very first play, almost intercepting an errant pass by Matt Schaub. The play continued from there, as the defense pressured Schaub into inaccurate throws, and wound up intercepting Derek Carr later in the game. First round pick Anthony Barr, and Tom Johnson combined for a sack, while Kurt Coleman got the lone turnover. The second and third team defenses continued the attack, only allowing the Raiders six total points in the game. Zimmer was not particularly happy with a few plays his defense allowed, especially a 23 yard scamper by Raiders running back Darren McFadden. All in all the new head coach was pleased with the effort and comradery of his team in their first action of the year.
No significant injuries concurred during game – There were a few bumps and bruises suffered during the game, but the more serious news came from after the game, when starting nose tackle, Linval Joseph, suffered a gunshot wound injury from a night club. It is not considered serious, and Minnesota has said the tackle will be ready to roll on opening day. During the game, safety Mistral Raymond was knocked out of action due to a head injury, the lone Minnesota player to leave the game. Andrew Sendajo, Jamarca Sanford, and Chase Ford were three others who did not play due to injury, newly signed Chris Crocker did not play as well, per Zimmer instruction.
Other notes from the game, Christian Ponder did not gain any steam from his place on the depth chart, as he took multiple sacks and failed at keeping drives alive with the third string offense. The first string offensive line played inconsistently last year, but had a very good showing in their first preseason action, opening holes well and providing adequate passing protection. Star running back Adrian Peterson did not play in the first preseason game, and may not see much time throughout the preseason.
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Commentary by Justin Huffman
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