It has been a rather uninspiring preseason for the Minnesota Vikings.
Between the first-team offense mustering a grand total of three points and the first-team defense allowing multiple long touchdown drives, the Vikings have given fans few reasons for optimism heading into the regular season. The preseason should never be taken too seriously, but Minnesota definitively failed with regard to adding to a hype train that was buzzing around draft time.
The projected starters took a backseat to the bubble players in Vikings’ final preseason matchup against the Miami Dolphins at U.S. Bank Stadium, and the result was a lot of the same. Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke struggled with his accuracy while Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant torched Minnesota’s secondary en route to a 30-9 Miami victory on Thursday night.
Starting slow has been a consistent theme for the Vikings this preseason. Beginning with the team’s sloppy opener in Buffalo, Minnesota didn’t find the end zone for the first time until the second half. This continued in the team’s loss in Seattle and, sans some heroics from Case Keenum and Heinicke, would have dealt the Vikings a meaningless loss against San Francisco.
Miami jumped all over the Minnesota reserves right from the get-go. Kenyon Drake put the Dolphins on the board with a short run up the middle, and quarterback David Fales hooked up deep downfield with Grant for a 65-yard touchdown, beating cornerback Sam Brown and safety Jayron Kearse down the right side of the field.
Heinicke, who started the game for Minnesota with Sam Bradford and Case Keenum getting the night off, struggled to complete passes early both as a result of accuracy issues and receivers dropping catchable passes. The former Old Dominion quarterback did get the Vikings on the board eventually, completing an 8-yard touchdown to second-year wide receiver Cayleb Jones.
His night may have come to an end early, however, as Heinicke left the game due to a concussion alongside rookie tight end Bucky Hodges. The injury likely occurred late in the second quarter when the former undrafted quarterback was sacked in the end zone by defensive end Praise Martin-Oguike. Heinicke completed nine passes on 20 attempts (45 percent) for 93 yards and one touchdown while adding 18 yards on two attempts on the ground.
Former University of Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner took over in relief. In his Vikings debut, the former Gopher completed 14 passes on 19 attempts for 129 yards and recorded three carries for four yards on the ground. The majority of his completions went to Jones, who was arguably the most dominant Vikings player on Thursday night, recording nine receptions, 127 yards and the team’s lone touchdown.
Fales put the nail in the coffin during the fourth quarter with a 19-yard touchdown pass to former Viking Mitch Mathews. The Miami quarterback finished the game 9-of-15 for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
The Vikings must have their roster cut down from 90 to 53 men by 3 PM CST this coming Saturday, September 2nd.
- Wide receiver Moritz Böhringer recorded his first NFL reception on a six-yard pass from Mitch Leidner
- Cornerbacks Sam Brown and Jabari Price struggled both in coverage and tackling throughout the evening
- Cornerback Mackensie Alexander produced a solid effort with exception to a bonehead taunting penalty
- Rookies Eric Wilson and Jaleel Johnson shined once again and should be considered Mr. Mankato finalists
- Rookie guard Danny Isidora looked very good all night, finishing off a solid preseason on a high note
- Kicker Marshall Koehn missed the Vikings’ only extra-point field goal attempt