Monday Morning Mailbag: Battle For Third RB Spot, Situation at Offensive Line, More

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Any chance the Vikings can keep both Roc Thomas and Mike Boone? These two can play! Trade? No fullback and use a tight end instead?
-- Dan Schroeder
Perham, MN

Yes, there are ways the Vikings can keep both Boone and Thomas. But you know how this goes – it’s a numbers game and there are other positions and surprise standouts to consider keeping, too. There’s no doubt, though, that this RB3 battle has really heated up! They have three touchdowns between them and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Mack Brown flash a few times before the preseason is over. And how about the blitz pickup by Boone late in Saturday’s game? There are several ways the “numbers game” can play out with regard to the RB3 spot and at this stage any speculation by anyone other than Rick Spielman or Mike Zimmer is pretty worthless. We’ll just have to watch and see how it plays out.

In your opinion, will the new kickoff rules lead to more players attempting a return even if the ball is to the back of the end zone?
-- Chris Kulak

I don’t think so. I feel return teams will keep the same strategy as in year’s past where the teams with great returners will be more aggressive in bringing kickoffs out of the end zone and the teams with more pedestrian return groups will be more cautious. I believe the new kickoff rules will cause greater variance in the strategies of kickoff teams, not the kickoff return teams. Some teams will bang the kickoffs out of the end zone just as they always did. Some teams will mess around with short kicks, such as the kickoff the Vikings executed on Saturday night that was nearly recovered by Jack Tocho. And then teams will use both strategies at different times based on a number of factors from weather to score to caliber of return group they’re facing.

Despite what many people might think, I think we played pretty well against the Jaguars. For starters, they do have one of the best teams in the League because not only is there defense top notch but they only gave up 24 sacks last year, which means they have a stout offensive line. Setting that aside, it seemed like the Jaguars played their first team on both offense and defense through the 2nd quarter where our starters were already on the sideline. I think that shows the quality of our backups and depth. What are your thoughts?
-- Arvind Gavali
Chesterfield, MO

Valid points. The second-team defense did show up on Saturday night while facing many of the Jaguars starters. There were also some elements of the offense that were solid, including both Boone and Thomas, and then I like what I saw from Daniel Carlson once again. Ultimately, though, I know head coach Mike Zimmer has a high standard set for this team and he’ll be looking for more from everyone on Friday night when Seattle is here for the preseason game No. 3.

Do you think starting offensive linemen Rashod Hill, Mike Remmers and Pat Elflein will be ready to start for Week 1? After watching the first few drives of the Jaguars game, it looks like the offensive line can use as much help as possible. Skol!
-- Eric Hendrickson
Culbertson, Montana

That’s certainly the hope. Zimmer expressed optimism that Remmers would be back this week and that Elflein would be back soon. He was unsure on a timeline for Hill. Those three combined for 38 regular season and postseason starts in 2017, so their experience working together in addition to their ability to pass block and run block is key to the offense’s ability to be at its best.

I keep hearing that Kirk Cousins loves to throw to his tight ends. And I know he thinks Rudy is a great target (“Like throwing into a mattress!). Why do you suppose he’s not targeting Rudy more? I know it’s a small sample, but still.
-- Steve Crescenzo

Cousins did have success throwing to tight ends such as Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed in Washington, but the truth is he also had good seasons throwing the ball to receivers and backs. He’s an equal opportunity thrower and he’ll get the ball to anyone who is open, regardless of position. I wouldn’t look at Rudolph’s lack of receptions or targets in the preseason as anything other than the stars just not aligning for him. He’s caught a lot of balls in practice and he’s going to catch a lot of them in the regular season, too. Hopefully many of those catches are in the end zone.

What I am seeing with the new contact rule, it’s going to put the referees in situations where they are deciding the outcomes of games. This is a rule that is making me not want to watch. Never felt like this before. So frustrated!
-- John McGuire
Lone Pine, CA California

I understand the frustration. There were a lot of penalties in Saturday’s game. And some plays that we’re used to seeing as legal are now illegal, so that can lead to frustration, too. But this happens a lot when the League implements new rules and focuses on points of emphasis. The officials are getting used to it, too, and they typically call those infractions a lot more during the preseason than they will in the regular season. The bottom line is these rules are promoting safety, and we should all be on board with that. We want the game to be safe but we also want the game to maintain its nature. Sometimes those are two contradictory desires. The League, with the rules and referees as its vehicles, is doing its best to satisfy both extremes and still make the game entertaining. I think the League is doing a good job. After all, you were watching a preseason game and you took the time to write in about a concern. I’m confident you’ll be more than satisfied with the product on the field in 2018.

I’m a big Laquon Treadwell fan, but very disappointed in his after-catch run attempts Saturday. Any updated opinions or comments on Laquon as a Viking? I’m losing confidence he’s going to reach his potential.
-- Randy Olthoff
Mason City, IA

Treadwell has had a very good spring and summer and he’s followed it up well with a solid debut in Denver and two catches against Jacksonville. I don’t have any updated opinions on him from what I’ve shared recently, and I also don’t think you should be losing confidence in him. This is as good as he’s looked with the Vikings and I’m looking forward to seeing him against this week on Friday night against Seattle when the first team offense is likely to play the first half and perhaps even into the 3rd quarter.

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