7 Takeaways from Vikings Preseason Game vs TEN

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The Tennessee Titans visited TCO Performance Center for a couple of joint practice sessions and the two franchises met for the second preseason contest. Mike Vrabel made some big changes in the offseason after going 7-10 in 2022.

7 Takeaways from Vikings Preseason Game vs TEN

The Vikings also lost their second preseason contest of the season, falling to 0-2 in the meaningless preseason standings. But we still learned some things about the team in the 24-16 loss.

1. NaJee Thompson’s Legacy Grows

One story of the game in Seattle was NaJee Thompson’s special teams magic, blowing up a punt returner on a play that went viral. And guess what, he repeated that on a play that looked like he had no chance to make the tackle.

He hasn’t done much from scrimmage but he is absolutely sensational on special teams and that is his way to make the 53-man roster. ST coordinator Matt Daniels praised him on his presser and he will pound the table for the rookie. Ryan Wright’s booming punts and Thompson’s tackles turned the usually frustrating punts into an exciting play some folks might look forward to seeing.

2. Greg Joseph Won for a Reason

Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) kicks a field goal at the beginning of the second quarter against the Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.

A couple of days prior to the game, the Vikings waived rookie kicker Jack Podlesny, ending the kicking battle earlier than expected as he didn’t even get a chance to kick in the preseason. However, Joseph looks sharp and hit a trio of kicks in the first half, putting the team up two points. His only other kick was a made extra point in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings are confident in their kicker and he will continue to handle those duties for at least one more season.

3. Oli Udoh Flashbacks

The offensive tackle was once the most penalized player in the entire league in the 2021 season when he started at right guard. Not back at right tackle, he continued that trend, picking up a couple of holding calls on back-to-back plays.

6 Takeaways from Vikings Preseason Game vs TEN
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) looks for a receiver at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.

Udoh killed drives in 2021 and he did it in the preseason game. The fact that the issue hasn’t been resolved is simply unacceptable and shows either a lack of poor technique or awareness. If Brian O’Neill isn’t ready to play in Week 1, it would be Oli Udoh starting at right tackle.

But Udoh wasn’t the only lineman of the backup unit that struggled, the whole backup unit couldn’t open holes for running back Ty Chandler and keep Nick Mullens clean.

4. Jaren Hall’s Comfort Level Grows

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) tosses the ball to running back DeWayne McBride (37) as they face the Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.

The rookie quarterback struggled last week and it wasn’t entirely his fault because neither the offensive line nor the receiver helped him much. This time, Jaren Hall was more confident staying in the pocket and throwing the football.

Regardless, his stats were terrible again but the receivers dropped some passes Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison would’ve caught without any shade of a doubt. One bad play was when he waited too long in the pocket and got sacked on a third down. A classic rookie mistake.

While he has still a lot to learn to be a reliable option at QB, he has shown nice touch on some throws in both games and he had a sweet 11-yard run for a first down.

5. Nick Muse’s Big Day

Starter T.J. Hockenson didn’t play just like free agent signing Josh Oliver and third tight end Johnny Mundt. All three have locked up a roster spot, so sophomore Nick Muse has to show why the Vikings should keep a fourth tight end on the roster.

Minnesota Vikings tight end Nick Muse (34) gets around Tennessee Titans safety Mike Brown (44) at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.

And he did just that as the best receiver on the field. He was consistently open and continued to make plays after making a beautiful TD grab in the preseason opener. Muse tabulated three catches for 46 yards and it was exactly what he needed to do to at least force a tough conversation on cutdown day.

6. Lewis Cine Is a Mixed Bag

This same exact point was listed in last week’s version. He totally lacks consistency and that is why he won’t be on the field when the regular season kicks off. His highlight plays are exciting but his worst plays are a disaster.

Cine started the game with a bunch of really nice tackles after having a bad tackling form a week ago. He got to the play and unlike in the Seattle game, he got low and finished off the play. But was late in the play and missed the tackle on a Tajae Spears rushing touchdown. Still, he was involved in many plays throughout the contest.

In the third quarter, he closed in on Malik Willis and brought him to the ground for a sack close to the endzone. A great play that also showed his closing speed. He displayed improvement within one week which is encouraging but the missed tackle is just frustrating. Cine led the team in tackles with 7 and had a sack.

7. Depth WRs Fail to Make Impact

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

Without starters Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn and with Jordan Addison in the concussion protocol and Jalen Nailor still recovering from an injury, it was a great chance for the depth receivers to stand out and make a name for themselves. But none of them did.

Tight ends Nick Muse and Ben Sims were the leading receivers and neither Jalen Reagor, Brandon Powell, Thayer Thomas, Trishton Jackson, or Blake Proehl made enough noise to virtually secure a roster spot.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt