The Vikings played their first home preseason game at home and third overall Sunday night, rallying with their second- and third-teams for a 32-31 comeback win over the 49ers.
Despite struggling in areas on both offense and defense, there were a number of players who stood out on the national stage. Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com made a handful of observations based on Sunday performances, including Laquon Treadwell's first preseason action of 2017. Coller wrote:
The Vikings 2016 first-round pick has spent much of preseason on the shelf, but put together a solid performance in his preseason debut, grabbing three catches for 36 yards. Treadwell ran exclusively with the first team, as he has when healthy during practice. When the Vikings open up against the New Orleans Saints, it appears he will be the No. 3 receiver behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. If Treadwell comes up short, he can never say it was because he wasn't given a chance.
Among Coller's takeaways were players who have been engaged in position battles and made their case against San Francisco. One of those was rookie defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, whom Coller said "appears to have solidified the lead" for a depth position on Minnesota's defensive line.
To open the second half, Johnson was in the game over Jones, who came in later in the third quarter. The rookie from Iowa was more quiet on Sunday than against the Seahawks – though he had a big hit on the 49ers QB [former Iowa teammate C.J. Beathard] in the fourth quarter – but his overall body of work and comfort playing the three-technique spot has set him apart.
Coller drew attention also to kicker Marshall Koehn and his evening that included both a made and a missed field goal.
As the kicking battle rages on, Koehn finally got an opportunity to show off his big leg in a game and nailed a 58-yard field goal in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the rookie, he missed [wide right] on a 47-yard try. Throughout camp, Koehn and Kai Forbath have been neck-and-neck. Would his long bomb help his cause, or would the missed 47-yard try hurt him enough to give Forbath the edge?
Coller's other observations included assessments of Nick Easton, Case Keenum and Ben Gedeon, who started at weakside linebacker for the second straight week.
View games action images as the Vikings take on the 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday Night Football.
Final 2 prime-time preseason games warmup for Vikings season opener
Minnesota's 2017 schedule is an interesting one.
The Vikings now have three prime-time preseason contests under their belt and have a quick turnaround for the final preseason stand and second consecutive home game. Minnesota is slated to face Miami on Thursday night at 7 p.m. (CT).
John Holler of *Viking Update *said that Minnesota's final two preseason games at U.S. Bank Stadium are transitioning the team into its home-heavy schedule to start the regular season. Holler wrote:
What the schedule is going to allow is the opportunity for the Vikings to get off to a strong start if they can take care of their business at home. The [last] two preseason games will provide the evening acclimation the team will need to prepare itself for the Saints on *Monday Night Football for opening week of the season, as well as a pair of back-to-back home games sandwiched around their two road games.*
Holler pointed out that the Vikings will play five of their first seven regular-season games at home before "the script gets flipped." Minnesota plays just three of its eight games following Week 7 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The schedule makers have done the Vikings no favors in the second half of the season, but it has made for distinct game plans moving forward in the 2017 season – build the record early on the back of playing most of their games at home and then prove their mettle in the second half of the season on the road almost every week.
It won't be easy, but it's the schedule that has been laid before the Vikings. What they do with it is up to them, but nobody in the NFL is going to have such a lopsided home-road juggernaut in front of them.