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Lunch Break, 9/1: Waynes Heading Right Way

An adage of the NFL is that a reserve is "one play away" from becoming a starter.

To that extent, the Vikings have been working to develop rookie cornerback Trae Waynes even though it appears the team has been more than happy with the play of Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman.

Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune provided an update on how Waynes has continuously improved with each preseason game to the point of what Head Coach Mike Zimmer called "by far" his best performance in Dallas.

Vensel wrote:

*The Vikings have their top two cornerbacks set in stone, and Waynes isn't one of them. The best-case scenario for the former Michigan State standout is that he earns the nickel cornerback job, which would still get him on the field for about 60 percent of the snaps. *

*The good news is that after a rocky start to the preseason, Waynes is starting to show progress. *

"I think I've improved week by week, so hopefully the streak continues," Waynes told Vensel. "I'm feeling more comfortable and understanding the system more, so I'm able to play faster."

Vensel noted Waynes went from being flagged three times for 43 yards in the Hall of Fame Game to zero in the past three games. Vensel sourced Pro Football Focus with tallying two catches for 10 yards by the Cowboys in 29 snaps played by Waynes.

"He was in position the entire night," Zimmer said Monday. "His technique was much better this last time. I thought he was in the right position much better and there were some things we had to talk about on the sideline. But for the most part, I thought this was by far his best performance."

"Thumbs-up" for Teddy

ESPN.com's Ben Goessling wrote that Teddy Bridgewater is worthy of a thumbs-up for his performance this preseason that includes 29 of 35 passes completed (82.9 percent) for 295 yards. Goessling emphasized the 39-yard completion Bridgewater had to Mike Wallace after spotting single coverage at the line of scrimmage and changing the play.

Goessling wrote:

*He's looked more assertive in the pocket and in better command of the offense; it looked like the Vikings might have dabbled with packaged plays on Saturday night, when Bridgewater pulled the ball and threw it after defenders crashed on Jerick McKinnon's run action. *

*It's worth noting that Bridgewater had a 64.4 percent completion rate — the third-best by a rookie in NFL history — even though his rate on throws of 5 yards or less was 21st in the league (in 2014). According to ESPN Stats and Information, Bridgewater hit only 69.3 percent of those passes, which seems high until you consider Tony Romo connected on 80 percent of his. Bridgewater actually picked up his performance on intermediate throws; he had the best completion rate in the league (67.5) on throws of 15 to 20 yards and was still tied for fifth on throws from 21 to 30 yards. His numbers didn't drop off until throws of 30-plus yards; Bridgewater was 3 for 20 on those. *

Rounds of roster reductions

The Vikings reduced their roster to the 75-player maximum allowed Tuesday by placing QB Mike Kafka on the waived/injured list. More changes are on the way because all teams must drop their numbers to 53 by Sept. 5.

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