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Bower, Johnson Make Impact in 1st NFL Preseason

MINNEAPOLIS — Tashawn Bower took a while to sit at his locker before hitting the showers Thursday night.

And once it was time for the rookie defensive end to get dressed, Bower took his time doing that, too.

Bower, who played the majority of the game in a 30-9 loss to Miami in the preseason finale, said the postgame fatigue he felt was actually welcomed.

"It kind of feels good to be tired," Bower said. "It's feels familiar, and this is something I like, so it's OK to be tired.

"The soreness, we'll definitely feel that soon," Bower added. "There are some plays where you're tired, but you have to push through because right now this is an audition for all of us, especially those guys who were undrafted. It's a big audition."

Bower wrapped up his first preseason with another noticeable performance, notching a pair of quarterback hurries to go along with a tackle for loss and a pass defended.

The former LSU standout said he felt his play improved as the game went on.

"I think in the second half I had an overall good half," Bower said. "The first half I made some mistakes, but I think I got to the quarterback more and was able to hit him in the second half."

Bower recorded a team-high 2.0 sacks through preseason play and will now wait to see what his future holds.

The defensive end said he's kept the same daily approach since arriving in Minnesota this spring as an undrafted free agent.

"I came into rookie minicamp and OTAs with that mindset," Bower said. "You can't come in every day thinking you're not fighting for a spot because you are.

"Everyone wants to be on the team and make the 53[-man roster], so if you're not fighting, then you're not going to be as good as you can be," Bower added.

Fellow defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson also fared well in his first NFL preseason.

The rookie defensive tackle said after Thursday's game that he felt like he made consistent strides over the past few months.

"Just overall, my productivity. Coming in the first day of practice when I first reported with rookies, I wasn't really doing what I needed to do. I don't want to say needed, but I wasn't making plays in practice," Johnson said. "As time went on, I got better and perfected my craft, was doing the little things better and perfected my craft and started doing the little things right, staying disciplined and detailed with everything.

"I started making a little bit more plays in practice, and come game time, the first preseason game up to now, I feel like all that I've done added up,' Johnson added.

Johnson had a sack this preseason and also added three tackles for loss.

"The goal right now is to continue to improve," Johnson said. "The preseason is over, and I'm really trying to do all I can to prepare myself and the team for Sept. 11."

The Vikings open the 2017 season at home against New Orleans on ESPN's *Monday Night Football *at 6:10 p.m. (CT).

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