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Monday Morning Mailbag: Positives and Negatives From The Preseason Opener

Posted Aug 11, 2014

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

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What were some of the positive things and the negative things that you saw from the Vikings preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders?
-- Kyle B.
Watertown, MN

I loved the first team defense, holding Oakland’s offense in the first two series to a grand total of seven plays and five net yards. I loved the first team offense driving a total of 112 yards in 20 plays and putting up 10 points in their first two drives. Other positives included: the starting secondary making plays on the football, with Derek Cox, Captain Munnerlyn, Julian Posey and Shaun Prater all forcing incompletions and/or registering pass breaks ups (PBUs); Adam Thielen contributing in a variety of ways, including with a 15-yard reception on 3rd down, punt returns of 23 and 26 yards, and a tackle on punt coverage; and a pair of defensive tackles impressing – Tom Johnson being disruptive on most of his reps (.5 sack) and rookie Shamar Stephen really showing up and actually leading the team in tackles for the game.

A few things for the team to work on include a few misfits on run defense, pass protection by the offensive line and not closing out the win late in the game (Oakland had a desperation pass attempt that reached the end zone on the final play).

I came away from Friday’s game impressed with our secondary playing the ball instead of the receiver. I was very impressed with the play of Kurt Coleman. Do you think he could win the starting safety spot next to Harrison Smith?
-- Ben M.
Shakopee, MN

Since Robert Blanton went down with a hamstring injury, no one has jumped up and taken the bull by the horns at the safety spot next to Smith. Off of his performance on Friday night, in which he had three tackles and an interception, it’s fair to wonder if Coleman has as good or better a shot than anyone to win the job. Another name to watch is Chris Crocker, who was signed last week but who didn’t play in Friday’s game.

We’ve read and heard a lot about Teddy Bridgewater’s understanding of NFL offenses, his ability to read defenses, locate receivers and move outside the pocket.  One thing I haven’t heard or read much of is his ability to run the ball if necessary. Will he have that escapability and the speed to run the ball if necessary?
-- Jeff
Littleton, CO

Yes, Bridgewater has the athleticism and mobility to make plays with his feet if necessary. I watched every snap of Bridgewater’s junior season at Louisville during the pre-draft process, and there is no question that he possesses the mobility to make plays with his feet. He didn’t use his legs often to make plays and he doesn’t use his mobility as a crutch like a lot of mobile quarterbacks tend to do, but when he needed to avoid the rush or even pick up yards with his legs, he can do so.

How did Sharrif Floyd play on Friday night?
-- Dustin V.

Floyd played well on Friday night, which was good to see because he’s had a solid training camp and you always like it when a player reaffirms your positive feeling on him from training camp by playing well in a game. On the Vikings first defensive snap of the game, Floyd worked with Everson Griffen on a stunt that resulted in Griffen pressuring Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub. Floyd also defeated a double team on the first play of the second series, which allowed him to spill a run outside so Munnerlyn could end the play. And on the fifth play of the third series, Floyd defeated another double team to pressure Schaub into another incompletion. I don’t anticipate Floyd being doubled much in the regular season, so the fact that he fared so well against double teams in the preseason is a good sign of things to come for the second-year pro.

Which of the undrafted rookie free agents has stood out so far in training camp? Who has the best chances of making it onto the final 53-man roster?
-- Gabe G.
Marion, IA

Three who stood out from Friday night’s game are tight end Mike Higgins, offensive lineman Austin Wentworth and offensive tackle Antonio Richardson. Higgins had two receptions for 27 yards, and both he and Wentworth were mentioned as under-the-radar standouts by head coach Mike Zimmer on Sunday. Richardson was the second team left tackle and has had a solid training camp in Mankato.

With Adrian Peterson being our obvious starting running back, from a fantasy football perspective, who is the best option on the Vikings roster to use as a handcuff to AP? Is it Matt Asiata or Jerick McKinnon (I’m in a PPR league)
-- Matt E.
Neptune City, NJ

This is a tricky question to answer because my sense is Asiata may be the true backup running back and demonstrated on Friday night that he has the ability to be a productive backup (13 rushing yards on three attempts), but Jerick McKinnon may actually see more snaps throughout the season because of his versatility. A true handcuff in this situation would be Asiata, but you may want to go with McKinnon because he can have fantasy value to you even if Peterson is healthy, particularly if your league has a flex positon in the starting lineup.