Early Look: Vikings vs. Jaguars

EAGAN, Minn. — It’s time to come home.

The Vikings continue their preseason schedule Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium against Jacksonville. Kickoff is at noon (CT).

The teams will see plenty of each other this week as the Vikings and Jaguars will hold joint practices at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center on Wednesday and Thursday.

Minnesota won its preseason opener in Denver behind an offense that put up 406 yards. Quarterback Kirk Cousins and the starters began the game with a scoring drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs.

The Jaguars fell 24-20 in their preseason opener against New Orleans.

The Vikings will host Seattle on Aug. 24 at U.S. Bank Stadium before wrapping up the preseason slate at Tennessee on Aug. 30.

Here’s a look at Minnesota’s home preseason tilt against Jacksonville:

Passing: All three Vikings quarterbacks who played against the Broncos did well.

Cousins was perfect in his preseason debut with the Vikings, completing all four passes for 42 yards, including the aforementioned touchdown to Diggs.

Cousins only played one series Saturday night, but he will likely get more work against the Jaguars.

Trevor Siemian threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns, playing the majority of the first half. He led three scoring drives in all.

Kyle Sloter led a late comeback as he threw for a touchdown and ran for another in the final six minutes of the game.

Jacksonville starter Blake Bortles played 15 snaps on Thursday and completed six of nine passes for 53 yards.

Cody Kessler came on in relief and threw for 139 yards and a score, while Tanner Lee completed four of eight passes for 37 yards.

Rushing: Dalvin Cook did not play in Denver, but Latavius Murray picked up the slack with four carries for 43 yards on just one drive, including a pair of back-to-back 20-plus yard runs.

Murray finished as Minnesota’s leading rusher, as a trio of other backs competing for the third running back spot each saw action.

Mack Brown had 34 yards on 11 carries, Roc Thomas had 29 yards on eight carries and Mike Boone had 22 yards on 12 carries.

Jacksonville starter Leonard Fournette ran for 24 yards on five carries while teammate T.J. Yeldon had 15 yards on four carries.

Jacksonville had seven other players record at least one carry but none gained more than eight yards.

Receiving: Diggs and Cousins established a quick connection, as the wide receiver had three catches for 35 yards and a score.

Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph did not have a catch on the opening drive, and Cousins’ fourth completion went to fullback C.J. Ham.

Thomas led all Vikings players with three catches for 102 yards and two scores, including a 78-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Siemian.

Chad Beebe, Boone and Stacy Coley each had more than 20 receiving yards against the Broncos, with Beebe catching a 9-yard touchdown from Sloter.

Jaguars running back Corey Grant and wide receiver Shane Wynn each had three catches for 39 yards in the preseason opener.

Wide receiver Dede Westbrook had three receptions for 32 yards, and tight end Scott Orndoff had two catches for 16 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown.

Defense: It doesn’t get much better than these two defenses.

The Vikings had the NFL’s best defense in 2017. Minnesota ranked first in points allowed (15.8), the first time it had led the league since 1971. The Vikings also allowed the fewest yards per game (275.9) to lead the NFL for the first time since 1993. The Vikings also had the best third-down defense (25.2 percent) in NFL history (the stat started being tracked in 1991).

Minnesota’s starters forced a quick three-and-out Saturday in Denver before resting the rest of the game.

After the second-and-third teamers came in, safeties Anthony Harris and Jack Tocho each recorded interceptions. Defensive end Tashawn Bower and defensive tackle Jonathan Wynn each notched a sack.

The Jaguars were right on the Vikings heels in 2017. Jacksonville ranked second in both yards (286.1) and points (16.8) allowed per game.

Jacksonville’s starters allowed a field goal to New Orleans on a nine-play drive in the preseason opener.

The Jaguars announced Sunday that the team suspended defensive end Dante Fowler and cornerback Jalen Ramsey for a week. Those players will not travel to Minnesota this week.

Special Teams: It was a mixed bag on special teams for the Vikings in Denver.

To start, kickers Kai Forbath and Daniel Carlson each fared well. Forbath handled kickoffs and had six touchbacks in eight attempts.

Carlson hit both field goal tries — from 39 and 57 yards — and made all four of his attempts. Punter Ryan Quigley averaged 49 yards per punt.

But the Vikings allowed a punt return for a score and didn’t get much going in the return game, as rookie Mike Hughes had one kickoff return for 16 yards and two punt returns for 11 total yards.

Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo hit a pair of 49-yard field goals against New Orleans, and punter Logan Cooke averaged 44 yards per punt.

View images of games between the Vikings and Jaguars through the years.

Over The Years

The Vikings are 5-1 all-time against Jacksonville in the regular season, with the Vikings winning the past four matchups.

Minnesota has scored at least 25 points in the previous four meetings, and has held the Jaguars to 20 points or fewer in three of those matchups.

Last meeting: Vikings 25, Jaguars 16, Dec. 11, 2016, in Jacksonville

The Vikings escaped to sunny Florida to get a December win in the final stretch of a frustrating season.

Forbath drilled four field goals on the day, but the Vikings trailed 16-12 entering the fourth quarter. Minnesota then responded with a pair of unanswered touchdowns.

Matt Asiata ran for a 1-yard score early in the fourth quarter before Rudolph caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford with just over two minutes remaining.

Bradford threw for 292 yards and a score while Thielen had four catches for 101 yards.

Everson Griffen had a pair of sacks. Danielle Hunter and Brian Robison each had one.

The win gave the Vikings a 7-6 record after the team had started the season 5-0. Minnesota finished 8-8 and missed the postseason.

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