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3 Observations: Bradford, Rudolph Connect in Clutch

Posted Aug 12, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings were back at work Saturday, two days after getting a 17-10 win over Buffalo in the preseason opener.

Minnesota practiced at Winter Park for the first time in two months, dressing in full pads and going for almost two hours on a picturesque summer afternoon.

The Vikings are scheduled to practice again Sunday afternoon and will travel to Seattle later this week for a Friday night preseason game against the Seahawks.

Here are three observations from Saturday’s session:

1. Coming up clutch

Only a touchdown would do Saturday afternoon.

The Vikings offense responded in the clutch.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer threw his team into another late-game situation Saturday, as the offense trailed 13-9 with just under two minutes left with the ball at the opponent’s 24-yard line.

After running back Dalvin Cook converted on fourth-and-1 with a run up the middle, the rookie running back later moved the chains on a 12-yard run play that got the Vikings inside the 10-yard line.

Quarterback Sam Bradford and tight end Kyle Rudolph later made the biggest play of the drive by connecting on a 4-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal.

Minnesota’s second-team defense then took the field down by a field goal and moved into position for a potential 51-yard, game-tying field goal, but Zimmer ended the drill and opted not to have Marshall Koehn take the kick.

2. Prepping for Seattle

There was an unfamiliar sight at practice Saturday. Because the Vikings wore their usual home purple jerseys at Buffalo, the offense had worn purple practice jerseys the past few weeks at practice.

But with a road game in the Pacific Northwest on tap, and Minnesota scheduled to wear its usual road uniform, the Vikings offense broke out the white jerseys for the first time all summer.

Zimmer opted to have music played during the team’s stretch period and might try to simulate crowd noise with a trip to Seattle on the horizon.

3. A priority on 1st downs

The Vikings offense ran 26 first-down plays against the Bills, totaling 80 yards in the process.

Minnesota’s defense, meanwhile, gave up 186 yards on 30 first-down plays in Buffalo.

Looking for more success on both sides of the ball, Zimmer had the Vikings spend two full team periods working on plays that consistently entirely on first down.

The Vikings offense mixed in both runs and passes, and the defense was able to work on both blitzing and coverage.