EAGAN, Minn. — On the heels of a 33-6 loss to Denver by Minnesota in Saturday's preseason opener for both teams, the Vikings returned to meetings and an afternoon practice to work on problems that presented in the game.
Assistant Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator Andre Patterson said he wouldn't use the word "concern" to describe the output of a contest that opened with many Broncos first-teamers against Vikings second-team defenders.
"We've got to remember it's the preseason, right? Those guys had a tremendous opportunity," Patterson said. "I was excited that they got a chance to go against Denver's No. 1 offense, because we had some great tape to come back and look and evaluate to see how guys can play against high-level people. In practice for two days, it was our 1s versus their 1s, our 2s versus their 2s, our 3s versus their 3s, and we had a good week defensively.
"But what ends up happening, like we all know, in the NFL, injuries occur, and guys can't play for a certain reason," Patterson continued. "You get a chance to see what a guy can do against a starting player in this league, where you're trying to guess whether he can handle it or not. I thought those guys had a tremendous opportunity to play against Denver's 1s, and some guys stood up to the challenge and some guys didn't. That's a good thing for us as coaches to be able to see in this point the season."
Patterson said he believes the game reps were even more valuable to him than the two days of practices when it comes to assessing potential backup players.
"I got more out of the game, because our guys got a chance to go — really, almost for two and a half quarters — go up against their first group," Patterson said. "It was a good evaluation from all three levels of our defense, to be able to see who's able to handle that, what a guy's got to do to improve when an opportunity comes his way again. I thought it was a good evaluation tool."
The Vikings are scheduled to host the Colts at 7 p.m. (CT) Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
It will be interesting to see if many of the 31 players who were withheld against the Broncos hit the field for some game reps or if Minnesota continues to emphasize getting the most game reps for players that are being evaluated.
Quote of the Day:
"I think it puts a chip on our shoulder, as well, to know that, 'Hey, you can't just go through the motions, you can't just go out here like it's another training camp day.' You can't do that because that's what happens, you get embarrassed a little bit. When it's on our home field, and we get beat the way we did, that's embarrassing. So I think that's a great opportunity to take that and use that going into today and then going into the next preseason game to say, 'Hey, you've got to have the right mentality, you've got to prepare the right way, you've got to be ready to go every single day.' People forget what you did yesterday. I always tell the guys, 'They don't care what you did yesterday. You might've had a great day yesterday, but it doesn't matter. Today is a new day.' "
— Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen
2 More Points
Here are two other takeaways from Monday's media session.
1. Avoiding pre-snap penalties
Stephen Weatherly was the only one out of the 22 listed first-teamers on Minnesota's unofficial depth chart to play against the Broncos.
Patterson explained he wanted Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum, who are being evaluated for the starting spot opposite Danielle Hunter, to have similar playing time and an equal comparison.
Among mistakes by rookies, one that was a bit of a surprise — and costly — occurred when Weatherly jumped offsides on third-and-4, which resulted in a fresh set of downs for a drive that ended with a touchdown. Jalyn Holmes, who is preparing for his fourth season, also was flagged for a neutral zone infraction on a third-and-2. A field goal capped that drive.
Patterson was asked about the keys to avoiding those pre-snap penalties.
"Don't listen to the quarterback. To be honest, that's one of the hardest things I have to break D-linemen of because whether it was high school or college or some pro coaches teach those guys to listen to the quarterback to get a jump on the snap," Patterson said. "But in actuality they're setting themselves up for failure. You're not in the huddle. You don't know the snap count. So how in the world can you get a jump on something you don't know? So that's where the quarterback uses it to our disadvantage."
Ironically, the Broncos weren't using hard counts. Instead Denver was implementing a silent count that is used by road teams in noisy venues.
"The center was bobbing his head. That's why we jumped off," Patterson said. "They're seeing the center's head bob up and down. From the outside, it looks like the ball is moving. And we jumped offsides. I've got to work on that in practice."
2. Colquitt 'ready to press forward' & other specialists determined
The Vikings began their offseason with competitions at all three specialist positions.
Punter Britton Colquitt appeared to be the first to claim a spot when he fended off undrafted rookie Zach Von Rosenberg during Organized Team Activity practices and has had some nice days on the practice fields.
Colquitt averaged and netted 40.5 yards on four punts in Saturday's game against the team he played for from 2010-15. A couple of punts were mentioned by Head Coach Mike Zimmer during his list of things that disappointed.
Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken was asked about Colquitt on Monday.
"Britton has been having a solid camp, and we've been excited about him," Ficken said. "Obviously, he knows he didn't perform to the standard he wants and that we have obviously for him. We've talked about that, and he's ready to press forward. He's definitely a pro and is ready for the next challenge and wants to be out there as soon as he can."
Veteran long snapper Andrew DePaola won the job, which was confirmed when Minnesota released undrafted rookie Turner Bernard on Sunday.
On Monday, the Vikings placed undrafted rookie kicker Riley Patterson on the Waived/Injured list, awarding the kicker job to Greg Joseph, who has impressed in camp and made field goals of 34 and 25 yards against Denver.