6 Takeaways from Vikings Preseason Game vs Cardinals

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The Arizona Cardinals visited TCO Performance Center for a couple of joint practice sessions and the two franchises met for the third preseason contest. Jonathan Gannon is the new head coach, replacing Kliff Kingsbury in the rebuilding organization.

6 Takeaways from Vikings Preseason Game vs Cardinals

The Vikings also lost their third preseason contest of the season, falling to 0-3 in the meaningless preseason standings. But we still learned some things about the team in the 18-17 loss.

1. A Couple of DTs Looked Great

Fifth-round rookie Jaquelin Roy appeared in his first preseason contest after missing the first two with a minor injury and he had a great game, getting into the backfield and making life hard for his blockers in both the run and the pass game.

6 Takeaways from Vikings Preseason Game vs Cardinals
Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis (7) recovers his fumble next to Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Day (52) during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.

Veteran Sheldon Day had been one of the standout players in the first two weeks of preseason and he continued his excellent run, pressuring the quarterback, drawing holding calls, and batting down a pass.

Roy should make the roster based on draft status and Day made a great case for himself in the three games.

2. Thayer Thomas Is in Trouble

The wide receiver was a popular pick as an underdog to make the roster as the punt returner and depth receiver but that ship has sailed. He muffed the second punt of the preseason and that is at least one too many to be even considered for the job.

As a receiver, he has made some intriguing plays throughout the summer and he is a sneaky good route runner but the lack of high-end speed combined with his inability to haul in the punts is likely too much to warrant a roster spot.

3. Jaren Hall’s Up-And-Down Day

The rookie quarterback didn’t play well in his first outing in a Vikings jersey, played better in his second game, and continued his upward trajectory in his third contest. This time, he started the game with Nick Mullens and Kirk Cousins inactive.

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Hall was much more comfortable standing in the pocket, but also rushing and throwing the ball. He is expected to have a true redshirt year but his performance was promising, completing 16 of 27 passes for 178 yards and 1 touchdown, adding 6 rushes for 21 yards.

An interception in the fourth quarter was a huge mistake. Hopefully, it is one he can learn from, just like his mistake on the final offensive play of the game when he crossed the line of scrimmage before completing a beautiful pass to tight end Ben Sims. Of course, that pass didn’t count and basically ended the game.

4. Jay Ward’s Masterclass

The fourth-round selection is a Swiss army knife defender who can line up all over the defense as a cornerback or safety and he was all over the field making plays. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores drew up a great safety blitz and Ward completed a hard hit on quarterback Clayton Tune to force a strip sack.

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He also made a nice tackle on special teams and he could be a player to watch in the future and provide depth in his debut season. Ward logged 7 tackles, leading his team. A spot on the 53-man roster as the fifth safety seems likely. The sack was the kind of play Vikings fans are excited to see in the upcoming season from their new defense.

5. Aggressive Secondary

This defense looked a lot different than in recent years. The players were flying all over the field and trying to make plays on the ball. Of course, they do that in part because splash plays like interceptions give the depth guys a shot to make the team.

C.J. Coldon, and Kalon Barnes stood out just like Jaylin Williams, and Ward as they contested multiple passes. It is obvious that the defense is more aggressive under Florers’ reign, not just in terms of play-calling but also the individual play.

6. Offensive Line Depth Could Be a Problem

Kirk Cousins Confirms
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The offensive line has been an issue in Minnesota for quite some time. All five starters and backup guard Blake Brandel didn’t play. The remaining blockers struggled at times, although they played better than in the last two games until the third-stingers arrived.

Ex-Vikings defender Zach McCloud was living in the backfield and his three-sack game could be enough to guarantee him a roster spot. If he makes it, he should send a thank-you letter to some Vikings linemen.

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