Correction: Contrary to what I said in the story originally, Laquon Treadwell DID have a catch on Friday night. I apparently missed it in all the excitement. Apologies for the oversight. -Chris
With the preseason opener officially in the books, the Minnesota Vikings have gotten off to a pretty solid start with a 34-25 victory over the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome. We’ve got a long way to go yet this preseason, but there were some players that helped themselves this evening in their quest to make the 53-man roster. There were also some players that certainly did not help themselves out in that regard.
Now, this isn’t going to be a full-blown Stock Market Report or anything like that. The SMR is Ted’s baby, and since he’s been off in Deutschland this past week, he can handle that when he comes back if he so chooses. But, in the wake of the preseason opener, I just wanted to throw my opinion on the subject out there.
So, let’s do it, shall we? I’m going to focus more on “fringe” type guys in doing this rather than guys that we know are locks to make the roster, so keep that in mind.
Which Vikings helped their chances on Friday night?
Bisi Johnson, WR - With the competition for the Vikings’ #3 wide receiver spot still pretty wide open, the seventh-round pick from Colorado State may have just jumped himself up to the top spot. He had two very nice catches on Friday night, including an 18-yard touchdown catch on a throw by Sean Mannion into very good coverage. He also got an opportunity as a kick returner in this one.
Nate Meadors, CB - I’m not sure what his odds of actually making the roster at this point are, but there’s no scenario where a pick-six is going to go down as a negative, so he pretty clearly helped himself. As we’ve said all offseason, with Mike Hughes’ status up in the air and Holton Hill’s status very well-known, there could be some room at the bottom of the cornerback depth chart in Minnesota, and Meadors is making his case.
Tyler Conklin, TE - Fellow tight end Cole Hikutini has been one of the hot names at Training Camp so far this year, but if the Vikings are going to keep four tight ends, it looked tonight like Conklin is comfortably in the lead for that spot at this point. He led the Vikings in receiving yardage on Friday, despite having just two catches. He averaged 28 yards/reception, and showed some nifty skills after the catch on a screen pass in the second quarter.
The Vikings’ young defensive linemen - With both the Vikings’ starting defensive tackles out of this one, some of the younger players up front got some chances to shine, and both Hercules Mata’afa and Jalyn Holmes did just that. Ifeadi Odenigbo also made the most of his opportunities on Friday night. There are going to be some very, very difficult decisions that have to be made among the defensive linemen on cutdown day, as has been the case the past few years.
Which Vikings hurt their chances on Friday night?
Vikings’ receivers not named Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, or Bisi Johnson - The rest of the Vikings’ wide receivers weren’t exactly prominent on Friday night. Laquon Treadwell didn’t have any receptions, nor did Chad Beebe or Brandon Zylstra. I don’t have the snap breakdowns in front of me at this point or anything, but no catches from the players that are competing for that third wide receiver spot doesn’t strike me as a good thing.
Ameer Abdullah, RB - A run like the 42-yard burst that Abdullah gave the Vikings on a draw play late in the second quarter will get the attention of the coaching staff. Another thing that will get the attention of the coaching staff is coughing up the football in the red zone. . .completely untouched. The fumble bug has been something that has followed Abdullah throughout his career, and if he doesn’t get it under control, he’s going to be looking for work again.
Bené Benwikere, CB - I know that he’s the new guy, but he definitely didn’t have a great night on Friday. He was flagged for a 20-plus yard pass interference penalty, and was beaten on several other occasions as well. Hopefully, for his sake, it’s just a bit of rust that he’s dealing with.
That’s what I’ve got as far as who helped themselves and who didn’t in the preseason opener. Who were some of the players that impressed you? Who were some of the players you were disappointed by?