The Vikings made a successful return to the outdoors on Friday night, kicking off their 2014 preseason with a win over the Oakland Raiders at TCF Bank Stadium. By now, you’ve read the game recap and you’ve seen the highlights. So what does it all mean going forward?
Here are three lessons and three questions from the preseason opener.
It’s probably too early to call the Vikings quarterback competition over, but it’s hard not to point at Cassel as the front runner after his performance in the preseason opener.
Jerick McKinnon continues to show he can be more than an offensive wild card or a scat back. On Friday night, he showed off his quickness and speed with a few runs off tackle and to the outside. Be, just as he has during training camp, McKinnon was also a productive runner between the tackles. On 3rd and 4 mid-way through the 1st quarter, McKinnon ran off right guard and picked up 12 yards. Just moments later, he ripped off eight more yards running off right guard again. In total, McKinnon had 45 rushing yards on 12 carries, rushing both inside and outside with effectiveness and only affirming what he’s been demonstrating in Mankato – that he can be a contributor in Norv Turner’s offense right away.
3. The defensive backs are already improved from last year
1. Who will start at safety next to
Yes, we did see improvement from the Vikings defensive backs on Friday night, but we didn’t get any closer to figuring out who will lineup as a starting safety next to Harrison Smith in Week 1.
2. Who starts at quarterback next week?
Cassel had the best night of the three Vikings quarterbacks, but if the coaching staff feels the competition for the starting job is still open, might they want to start Bridgewater on Saturday against Arizona so as to give him an extended look with the rest of the starting lineup? It’ll be a question both Turner and Zimmer are asked all week.
Coaches have a saying: “The more you can do.” That saying applies to Adam Thielen after Friday night’s game. He’s listed as a receiver, of course, and he did have a 15-yard reception on 3rd and 3 mid-way through the 3rd quarter. But it was Thielen’s contributions in other areas of the game that stood out on Friday night, and that may have earned him a roster spot. Thielen had three punt returns on the night, one for 26 yards and another for 23. And he also made a great tackle on a punt late in the 2nd quarter. How much more can you get from your fourth/fifth receiver?