The Vikings were defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday, falling 14-10 in their second preseason game of 2018. The game was marred by injuries and penalties, but it did contain plenty of other notable action. Here are five takeaways from the game…
1. Danielle Hunter paces solid effort by first-team defense
The Vikings pressured Jaguars quarterbacks all day, totaling six sacks on the afternoon and knocking down Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler several other times. Danielle Hunter, who started at right defensive end in place of Everson Griffen, was in the offensive backfield about as much as Bortles was. Hunter finished with 1.0 sack but his ability to make Bortles uncomfortable and unable to stand in the pocket was key to the Vikings defense suffocating Bortles as much as it did. Harrison Smith also got in on the action, intercepting a Bortles pass on Jacksonville’s second possession. The Jaguars were able to gouge the Vikings first-team defense with some screen passes and they scored on a 1-yard plunge by running back Leonard Fournette, but all-in-all it was a consecutive solid outing for the Vikings starting defense.
2. Mike Boone, Roc Thomas keep RB3 battle interesting
With Mack Brown, Mike Boone and Roc Thomas, the Vikings have a talented trio vying for positioning on the running back depth chart. All three have flashed during the offseason and into training camp, but it was Thomas who stole the show last week in Denver with 131 total yards and two touchdowns. On Saturday, Boone is the back who found paydirt to go along with 91 rushing yards. Thomas wasn’t a no-show, though, as he totaled 25 rushing yards on five carries and 12 receiving yards on two catches. Brown didn’t play because of an injury. It’s unclear who is favored on that running back depth chart among the aforementioned trio, but it is clear the Vikings have a competitive and talented stable of backs from which to choose.
3. Much to clean up this week before Seattle comes to town
There were highlights from Saturday’s exhibition game, but head coach Mike Zimmer and his staff will also unearth plenty of areas that need attention this week at practice before the Vikings are right back at U.S. Bank Stadium for Friday night’s preseason contest against the Seattle Seahawks. The Vikings were penalized seven times for 60 yards, were 0 for 12 on third downs, surrendered four sacks and three negative-yardage runs, allowed a 56-yard punt return and lost two of three fumbles (the second lost fumble occurred on a fourth-down sack). Zimmer’s teams have a history of responding well to points of emphasis in practice, and you can be certain Zimmer will have his eye on these areas over the next few days.
4. Injuries will test Vikings depth
The Vikings ruled out 13 players before kickoff and then they watched as several others were forced from Saturday’s game due to injury, including cornerback Mackensie Alexander, offensive linemen Josh Andrews and Cedric Lang, defensive end Ade Aruna and fullback Johnny Stanton. Regardless of the errors and transgressions that happen on the field, injuries are the most regrettable part of football and they were ever-present at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
5. Kicking update
After going 4-for-4 on extra points and 2-for-2 on field goals last week in Denver, rookie kicker Daniel Carlson handled kickoff duties on Saturday. He kicked off three times. The first nearly was recovered by teammate Jack Tocho when it landed well short of the end zone and the Jaguars were slow to pounce on it. The second attempt was at the beginning of the third quarter. Even though it was 8 yards deep in the end zone, it was returned 33 yards. The third kickoff resulted in a touchback. Carlson also converted an extra point following Boone’s touchdown in the third quarter. Veteran Kai Forbath was good from 44 yards to open the scoring in the first quarter but then hit the right upright on a 41-yard try in the middle of the second quarter.