MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - We learned a little more about the 2019 Minnesota Vikings Sunday night in a 25-19 win over the Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Coach Mike Zimmer is now 19-4 in the preseason in five-plus seasons with the Vikings. Nine players didn’t see the field due to injury or rest, and running back Dalvin Cook never left the sideline as he wore a sweatshirt under his jersey. The Vikings got the win, but the first-team offense managed just three points against the Seahawks.
Now we look to the “dress rehearsal” on Saturday. The third preseason game is when the starters typically play the first half, and perhaps even into the third quarter if needed.
Here are some takeaways from Sunday night as the regular season approaches.
First-team offense moves ball
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings’ first-team offense had a chance to score in at least one of its two drives Sunday night. The performance left plenty to learn from moving forward. Cousins had Alexander Mattison open on a screen for what would’ve been a long gain deep into Seahawks territory, but the throw sailed high. On the next play, Cousins fumbled the exchange from Garrett Bradbury. Let the “butt sweat” jokes commence. The drive ended with a Kaare Vedvik punt to the Seattle 7-yard line.
The second drive had the most promise. Cousins found Adam Thielen for a 34-yard gain down the sideline. Seattle challenged offensive pass interference on the play, and lost. Cousins had Thielen open deep down the middle on the next play, and Seattle was called for pass interference. The Vikings had first-and-goal at the 6, but the drive stalled after Kyle Rudolph was flagged 15 yards for clipping. The call had Zimmer screaming at the officials, and the Vikings settled for a 24-yard field goal from Dan Bailey.
Clean sheet for offensive line
For the second straight week, the offensive line kept their quarterback upright, for the most part. None of the Vikings’ four quarterbacks has been sacked this preseason. That’s key when you consider Cousins was sacked 40 times last season. The offensive line gets tested daily by Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and others in practice daily. The scheme has also been aiding Cousins with play action, roll outs and getting the ball out early. Let’s hope it continues when games matter.
Brandon Zylstra’s big night
There’s a wide receiver battle going on in Training Camp behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and Brandon Zylstra might have put himself in the thick of it Sunday night. He caught all five of his targets for 37 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown from Kyle Sloter. Zylstra didn’t have a catch at New Orleans and played primarily special teams.
Back-up quarterback race
Another intriguing battle at Training Camp is for the No. 2 quarterback job behind Cousins. Sean Mannion has been the front-runner, but Kyle Sloter is gaining ground. Mannion finished Sunday 11-of-14 passing for 88 yards and a touchdown to Irv Smith Jr., but made one big mistake. He had a pass intended for Chad Beebe that was intercepted and returned 80-plus yards for a Seattle touchdown. Kyle Sloter is known for playing well in the preseason, and that trend continued. He finished 11-of-13 passing for 116 yards and a touchdown to Zylstra. Sloter and Mannion combined to go 22-of-27 for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Irv Smith Jr.’s first touchdown
Alexander Mattison and Olabisi Johnson got their first taste of an NFL end zone at New Orleans. Sunday night, it was time for second round pick Irv Smith Jr. Seattle had a busted coverage in the second quarter, and Smith was wide open in the middle of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown that tied the game 10-10. It was just as important for Mannion, who was coming off throwing a pick-6. Smith finished the night with five catches for 27 yards.
Kaare Vedvik debut
There’s been a lot of talk about kickers at Training Camp lately, and the Vikings (sort of) tried out a new one on Sunday. The Vikings traded a 2020 draft pick to Baltimore for specialist Kaare Vedvik, who made his U.S. Bank Stadium debut. Vedvik had three punts, and handled kickoff duties. He also made an extra point. He brings the Vikings versatility, though they don’t know how exactly they plan to use him yet.
Laquon Treadwell emergence?
We had a Laquon Treadwell sighting in the second half Sunday night, though it might have been as much for other teams as it was for the Vikings. Treadwell was targeted four times by Sloter, and made all four catches for 47 yards. He’s been the subject of recent trade rumors as he battles for a receiver spot on the roster. Zimmer even said, “We were trying to showcase him a little bit.”
The Vikings host the Arizona Cardinals at noon Saturday in more preseason action at U.S. Bank Stadium.