Saturday, August 19, 2017

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Vikings
image courtesy of Vikings.com

Vikings Territory #content maker Drew Mahowald recaps the Minnesota Vikings’ Preseason Week 1 win over the Buffalo Bills.

Football. Is. Back.

We made it through the offseason and we made it through training camp. It’s finally time to see the squad in full uniform battle players other than their own teammates.

The 2017 Vikings’ first preseason action went about as expected in a general sense — offensive execution was sloppy, and the defense took advantage to create opportunities for turnovers and 3-and-outs.

After a scoreless first quarter, the teams each tallied field goals in the second quarter to go into halftime at a 3-3 score. Minnesota’s offense found a spark in the third quarter when second-string quarterback Case Keenum led a seven-play, 69-yard drive that culminated with a CJ Ham two-yard rushing touchdown.

Shortly after, third-string quarterback Taylor Heinicke found Rodney Adams in the flat for a two-yard touchdown via a funky goal line play design by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to push the lead to 17-3.

Buffalo cut the lead in half after a one-yard touchdown reception by Dezmin Lewis on a pinpoint fade route pass from Nathan Peterman. Minnesota then played keep-away the rest of the game, and a botched snap on a fourth-down play during Buffalo’s final drive effectively ended the game.

The game featured several bubble players taking advantage of opportunities presented to stabilize themselves as favorites for the 53-man roster. Others saw themselves slip farther and farther away from that status.

And for some, their position group is in such flux that nobody really knows what to think (yes, this line is about the offensive line).

See the key takeaways from preseason game No. 1, below:

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Brothers Cayleb and Zay Jones Set for Battle

Image courtesy of elite photographer, BJ Reidell

Let the Games Begin!

The Minnesota Vikings are set to compete in their first matchup of the NFL preseason tonight against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Quarterback Sam Bradford, Stefon Diggs and Co. are scheduled to go head-to-head with an imposing Buffalo defense led by nose tackle Marcell Dareus, one-time bust defensive end Jerry Hughes and former Florida State cornerback and 2015 second-round pick Ronald Darby following a much-anticipated coin toss set to take place at 6 p.m. Central/7 p.m. Eastern.

Following — what certainly appeared to be — a very successful final training camp in Mankato, Mike Zimmer and his staff will continue their positional evaluations tonight. Plenty of impact roles remain up-for-grabs, as Minnesota has the luxury of rostering 90 players up until the beginning of the 2017 season following a change made by league office this offseason to eliminate the late-summer 75-man roster cut check point.

As a result, the preseason has never been more important than it is in 2017 — extra days for 15 players should result in more competition, higher intensity and, above all, this change should create a better on-field product during the month of August (while also increasing NFL revenue, shocker).

Minnesota is matched up against Buffalo tonight, on paper, but the preseason uniquely is less about who the opponent is and more about determining how to best prepare the entire 90-man depth chart for September based on what the Bills’ strengths and weaknesses.

Week 1 of the NFL preseason, generally speaking, yields between three and five series for projected starters, roughly two quarters of second- and third-team “bubble” players and, per standard, the final 15 minutes is typically reserved for the players that, in the words of the great Lou Brown (Major League), “Guys that will be bagging groceries in a couple weeks”.

As hysterically blunt as it is, Brown’s point stands true — 47 of these players must go come September. Minnesota’s brain trust has roughly one month to make a handful of decisions regarding which players will take the field against the New Orleans Saints but, more importantly, Zimmer and Co. will need to determine an optimal 53-man depth chart this coming season while still managing to hold onto the surplus of raw talent at the back end of the roster.

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lions
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

This is the fourth installment of our Opposing View series, in which we gauge the league-wide perception of the Vikings by talking to bloggers from around the NFL. For each post, I’ll seek out a writer for a team on the 2017 Vikings schedule, and ask them a few short questions about the way they view our squad from afar. 

This time around, I chatted with Kent Lee Platte of PrideofDetroit.com, a man VT’s BJ Reidell once called a “borderline mensa-level genius.” The Vikings play the Lions in Weeks Four and Twelve.

Check out the previous installments here:

Q&A With Steelers Writer Alex Kozora
Q&A With Bears Writer Jeff Hughes
Q&A With Packers Writer Zachary Jacobson

VTTop of your head, give me the first things you think of with the Minnesota Vikings going into 2017.

Kent Platte: I jump right to the run game, just as I always have. The Vikes have moved on from Peterson and drafted one of the biggest draft day slides. Can they rekindle a run game despite the poor OL and rookie rusher?

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Vikings Bookends Need To Stay Off The Shelf

Under head coach Mike Zimmer, the Minnesota Vikings have quietly become one of the best NFL teams on paper. In reality, the defense is legitimate. Last season the Vikings ranked third in the NFL in total defense.

Today, three of the team’s best defenders are the beneficiaries of contract extensions, making them Vikings for life. Furthermore, the Vikings offense, which sputtered last season, now has the personnel to establish a refreshing new identity, post Adrian Peterson.

So, what could keep this ‘great’ team from reaching the playoffs and making a run at Super Bowl 52 in their home state? The Vikings’ Achilles heel…the offensive line.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

According to the team website, Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform List Monday. He practiced with the team but did not take part in contact drills.

It was the first time Murray officially practiced as a Viking. The team acquired the back knowing he needed offseason ankle surgery. He was placed on the PUP list when the team reported to training camp.

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