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Brian Asamoah II Caps Vikings Rookie Preseason with Grit

Brian Asamoah II already has a roster spot secured, but he didn't rest on that Saturday in the Vikings third preseason game.

The third-round draft pick left the game early in the first quarter after getting his ankle rolled up on, but he later re-entered the game and made his presence felt to help a defense short on inside linebackers.

"I just give B.A. a ton of credit. B.A.'s gonna be on our football team – he knows that; we know that," Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said after the Vikings 23-13 loss in Denver. "He's done everything we've asked. He's had a phenomenal camp for a rookie in this league. He's showed up time and time again, flying all over the field.

"For him to be able to overcome that early injury and then be in there for the duration, it speaks a lot about what's inside B.A. and ultimately what makes us so fired up that we got him and have him on our team," O'Connell added.

Asamoah finished his final preseason outing as a rookie with seven tackles, six of which he recorded after returning to the field.

"I've always been a fighter," Asamoah said of playing while dinged up. "Mindset was, 'Whatever it is, I can fight through it and worry about it the next day.' That's kind of what I did. Tried to do what's best for the team, and my team needed me to play."

He referenced an inside linebackers group hurting for depth after Troy Dye re-aggravated an ankle injury suffered during the team's scrimmage Thursday.

"All of us were nicked up and bruised up, but that kind of just speaks volumes [about] our who inside backs room," Asamoah said. "We just continued to fight."

O'Connell complimented Asamoah's ability to call the defense, saying it's unique for a team to have multiple linebackers who could don the green-dot helmet indicative of the added headset.

"A lot of guys are looking up to you – you have to get everybody lined up," Asamoah said. "You've really gotta know your stuff but also know what the guys in front of you are doing, as well."

View photos from the Vikings-Broncos 2022 preseason game at Empower Field at Mile High.

Asamoah said the first two exhibition contests against the Raiders and 49ers, along with training camp, have "helped a lot" as he's transitioned from college to the NFL.

"The first two kind of showed me what a lot of offenses do … what to expect," he explained. "Where the gap is, [and] just in general. That general football knowledge."

Asamoah's tackles total tied with cornerback Kris Boyd for the team's second most, behind rookie safety Mike Brown. The undrafted free agent led Minnesota with 10 stops.

Rookie outside linebacker Luiji Vilain snagged the Vikings first and only interception of the preseason, intercepting Brett Rypien midway through the first quarter. Vilain's takeaway came at a crucial time, stopping the Broncos inside the red zone and returning the ball to Minnesota.

Cornerback Akayleb Evans had two tackles, linebacker William Kwenkeu recorded six, and former Golden Gopher Ezezi Otomewo had three. Undrafted rookie Zach McCloud added one tackle.

Offensively, rookie running backs Ty Chandler and Bryant Koback shouldered a solid load Saturday night, combining for 19 carries and three catches.

Koback led the team with 14 rushes, on which he totaled 41 yards and a touchdown.

Chandler, who has impressed throughout the preseason, totaled 44 yards on just five carries. His longest play occurred early in the second quarter, when he rumbled for 25 yards. The long run helped set up the Vikings for their lone touchdown of the evening, a 1-yard run by Koback.

Through Minnesota's three preseason games, Chandler topped all Vikings rushers with 113 yards on the ground.

He and Koback took handoffs from quarterback Sean Mannion in the first half and Kellen Mond in the second, as the Vikings tried a different QB approach than in their games against Las Vegas and San Francisco.

Tight end Nick Muse, whom Minnesota drafted in the seventh round, was targeted four times but finished the night with just one catch for 11 yards. The tight ends group was led by 2021 selection Zach Davidson, who impressed with a pair of runs for yards after the catch; Davidson had four receptions for 47 yards.

Sixth-round draft pick Jalen Nailor, who's shown off his wheels both on special teams and on offense this preseason, caught a pass from Mannion for 16 yards on third-and-7. Nailor was evaluated for a concussion that occurred near the end of his scheduled reps.

"I think Jalen Nailor's had a really strong camp," O'Connell said.

Rookie guard Ed Ingram was one of 33 Vikings announced as not expected to participate Saturday. Minnesota's other two first-year linemen, center Josh Sokol and tackle Vederian Lowe, did not start but saw action throughout the evening.

View pregame photos ahead of the Vikings-Broncos preseason game at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium.

The Vikings started the following veterans up front: left tackle Blake Brandel, left guard Jesse Davis, center Austin Schlottmann, right guard Chris Reed (who missed the first two games due to injury) and right tackle Olisaemeka Udoh.

Saturday offered rookies and other players one final chance at making their case for Minnesota's final 53-man roster, which they must decide on Tuesday.

View photos of Vikings players showing off their travel day fits as they head to Denver for a 2022 preseason matchup against the Broncos.

And though Asamoah isn't in danger of being among the released players, he's excited to keep improving.

"Today was another day I could learn and grow as a player," Asamoah continued. "Understanding what offenses like to do, where they're attacking us in our coverages. This whole preseason has helped me in my development, and I'm excited to see where it goes."