The Minnesota Vikings have had a long offseason of speculation nibbling away at their wide receiver depth chart from all angles. In their 23-10 victory over San Diego, with Teddy Bridgewater dealing aces, a lot of observations were there for the taking and will surely lead to some 1.
Stefon Diggs was Bridgewater’s top target in San Diego who made a team-high five grabs, showed off some turn-on-a-dime tricks, and efficiently tallied up 71 yards prior to sitting down for the day. Diggs was nothing short of impressive, looking like the top NFL receiver Vikings fans desperately want him to be, and that alone should provide plenty of optimism as the team prepares to play Tennessee in the regular season opener.
Similarly, Charles Johnson looked like a nice compliment to Diggs out there, as he caught two of his three passes and walked away with a nice day having 25 of Bridgewater’s 161 yards to his name.
“I think it’s good,” Johnson said of the offense in the exclusive interview with Tom Moore posted above. “I mean it is still a work in progress, we’re still trying to go out there and do the little things and keep getting better, because we want to just continue to grind and continue to get better each and every day.”
Johnson recognized that while the Vikings offense was clicking in many respects, today, that the red zone offense is something that needs to be improved. The return of Adrian Peterson might give the red zone offense a boost, but Vikings fans also got a taste of what Laquon Treadwell might have to offer in that area as he works his way into the lineup.
Treadwell, getting some time this week with Bridgewater and the first team offense, hauled in his lone target of the day for a 15 yard gain. What really got fans excited, however, was Treadwell’s successful muscle catch in the endzone on a two yard conversion attempt. That type of play, sure hands in tight spaces with defenders in his face, will be a main ingredient in any recipes for a remedy that Norv Turner has cooking regarding his red zone offense.
Two guys that didn’t fare as well in the U.S. Bank Stadium debut were receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright.
Patterson had some trouble with footing on one kickoff return, giving him only a 21.5 yard average on his two attempts there, and he also ran for negative six yards on a busted up gadget play. Patterson caught nothing, but was the only Vikings receiver to score a touchdown when he made the heads up play after a MyCole Pruitt fumble.
“I hope I have the best year of my whole life,” Patterson said after the game. “It might be my last year. You never know when it’s your last moment, so all you can do is give it your all and play like there’s no tomorrow. It might be my last year here or they might give me an extension. My motto is go out there and do what I have to do. I love being here so I’m just trying to ball out and make some plays.”
Jarius Wright made good on his vow to play this preseason after being hampered by an injury. The odd part about that, however, is that it didn’t happen until the third quarter. Wright made a beautiful play, good for 26 yards, but one couldn’t help but notice that he seemingly has lost ground on the depth chart.
It is possible that the team is simply easing him back into action after missing so much time, but it is also possible that the team may no longer have Wright in their long-term plans. I’m a fan of Wright, he does a lot of things well, but this preseason has just not been great for him.
Wright being released is hard for me to imagine, to be honest, largely because of the $2.24 million in dead cap space that would result, according to Spotrac. That pill would be far less bitter to swallow, however, if a receiver needy team like Philadelphia came calling and Rick Spielman was able to get something in return for his investment in Wright.
And that’s it.
No other Vikings receiver was credited with a target, let alone a catch, so there is not much left to say.
The Vikings appear set to have Stefon Diggs and Charles Johnson atop their depth chart on opening day. The water gets a little murky after that, but we should find out soon enough just how things are actually stacking up when it comes to evaluations from the coaching staff.