After watching Vikings legend Mick Tingelhoff go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night, the current Vikings kicked off the 2015 preseason on Sunday night and did so by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 14-3. There are many things to take away from the game, but here are five of the biggest ones...
1. Defensive Line Did What It Does – Dominated
The Vikings defensive line has been setting the tempo at training camp and they didn't miss a beat in Canton, with the first and second team lines consistently winning at the line of scrimmage. While the first team only saw a handful of snaps, they did prove disruptive in the game's first series and forced a three-and-out. The second team, led by tackles Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen, didn't ease up. Both Johnson and Stephen had sacks, while DEs Danielle Hunter and Justin Trattou were also active, particularly Trattou.
2. Young Players FlashedA host of young Vikings had significant contributions, flashing the talent Rick Spielman saw in them and showing they're paying attention to the coaching of Mike Zimmer and his staff. Rookie TE MyCole Pruitt hauled in a 34-yard touchdown reception and fellow rookie Stefon Diggs also nearly found paydirt on a 62-yard punt return before he was tackled inches short of the goal line. Rookie LB Eric Kendricks impressed, most notably on a blitz during the second half in which he cause an early throw and incompletion on 3rd down. Third-year LB Gerald Hodges was all over the field in the first half, second-year CB Jabari Price had two pass breakups in the end zone and second-year S Antone Exum and former CFL LB Brian Peters each had fumble recoveries.
3. Young Players Can Also Learn From Some MomentsThose young players listed above as well as others not listed above also endured some "teaching moments" during the game. Rookie CB Trae Waynes was flagged three times; had it not been for a dropped pass, Hunter nearly led a TD reception slip by him; P Jeff Locke had a touchback and K Blair Walsh missed a 48-yard field goal; QB Taylor Heinicke took a sack he could've avoided by getting rid of the ball quicker. But this is exactly what the preseason is for – to go through game situations in real time and learn from mistakes.
4. Teddy-to-Rudy Looked GoodQB Teddy Bridgewater has been vocal about his feeling that a healthy Kyle Rudolph is a huge boost for the Vikings offense. On Sunday night, it was clear that Bridgewater knew what he was talking about. Rudolph looked healthy, fresh and fast, and Bridgewater took advantage. In their first and only series of the game, Bridgewater and Rudolph connected two times for 22 yards, including once on 3rd and 5. Defenses will be stressed in trying to neutralize the ground game with Adrian Peterson and the speed of Mike Wallace that a healthy Rudolph thrown into the mix will give the Vikings yet another dangerous weapon on offense.
5. Adam Thielen Does a Lot of Things WellVoice of the Vikings Paul Allen referred to WR Adam Thielen as the Vikings Swiss Army knife during Sunday night's radio call, and it's a perfect description for what the Minnesota State, Mankato product does for the team. Thielen had two receptions on 3rd down that moved the chains and led to Pruitt's TD, then later he fielded a punt. This is the same player who last season blocked a punt and returned it for a TD and played on coverage teams, as well.