The Vikings concluded their 2019 preseason in Buffalo, losing a 27-23 decision to the Bills at New Era Field. A busy weekend lies ahead for the Vikings and the rest of the NFL before the regular season opens next week.
Here are five takeaways from Thursday evening's preseason finale.
1. Running backs put a bow on outstanding preseason
The Vikings running backs room put on a show this preseason. The group led the NFL in rushing yards per game this with 168.2. Mike Boone led the NFL in preseason rushing with 196 yards. Dalvin Cook dazzled last week with an 88-yard touchdown run. Khari Blasingame scored three touchdowns in four games. Ameer Abdullah averaged 8.8 yards per carry and scored on a 15-yard reception on Thursday night. There may not be another team in the League with a more talented or deeper running backs room.
View images as the Vikings take on the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo on Thursday night.
2. Bailey puts best foot forward
Veteran Dan Bailey provided some stability on Thursday night, coming into the game after Kaare Vedvik went one of two on field goal tries. Bailey blasted a 54-yard field goal late in the 3rd quarter, with his attempt splitting the uprights down the middle and flying over the cross bar with plenty of room to spare. Bailey was also true from 43 yards in the 4th quarter and he converted an extra point.
3. Dillon, Hikutini show promise in battle for possible roster spot
The Vikings decided to keep tight ends Tyler Conklin, Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith, Jr. on the sideline on Thursday night, giving way to Brandon Dillon and Cole Hikutini to share snaps. Both Dillon and Hikutini gave a good accounting of themselves and leave the team with solid options if a fourth tight end is indeed in the plans. Dillon hauled in five receptions on five targets for 58 yards, not including a 23-yard touchdown grab that was nullified by a holding penalty. Hikutini had four grabs on eight targets for 45 yards.
4. Sloter receives praise from Zimmer
It happened. Kyle Sloter threw his first interception in the preseason. Even still, Sloter performed well once again for the Vikings in a preseason game and even drew praise on two occasions from his head coach. Sloter was 15 of 22 for 157 yards with one touchdown and one interception through two quarters on Thursday night. In his halftime interview with Vikings Radio Network analyst Greg Coleman, Zimmer sounded pleased with Sloter's command of the offense and performance overall. Sloter finished the game with 163 yards and finished the 2019 preseason with a box score of: 39 of 51 for 443 yards with four touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 120.0.
5. Preseason ends, but a busy weekend is only beginning
Yes, the exhibition season is over. But there is still much work to do before the regular season can begin. Thursday's preseason finale was the final evaluation opportunity for Vikings coaches and scouts as they now are tasked with trimming the roster from 90 to 53 by 3:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, August 31. How many tight ends will be kept? How about quarterbacks? Boone, Abdullah or both? Who is WR5? Who is LB6? What about the specialists and returners? All questions that have yet to be answered, but all questions that will be answered by Saturday evening.
NFL Kickoff | We Ready
The kickoff for #NFL100 is here and we only have two words - WE READY! Don't miss the season opener Green Bay Packers taking on the Chicago Bears on Thursday, September 9th at 7:20 PM CT