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Monday Morning Mailbag: Jones Acquisition, Sloter's Preseason Play, More

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Any thoughts on this trade with the Giants for Brett Jones? Could the Vikings be setting themselves up to move Pat Elflein to an interior line position to strengthen the offensive line?
-- Cris Wallace
@CrisWallaceWG

Jones is young (27), started 13 games last season for the Giants and he can play either guard or center. This is exactly the type of profile I believe GM Rick Spielman covets when he decides it’s time to trade for a player this time of year. The Giants inserted him into the lineup as their starting center in Week 5 last season, and they averaged 109.3 rushing yards per game for the final 12 games compared to 59.3 rushing yards per game for the first four contests. I’m not going to suggest Jones is the entire reason for that surge in production, but I bet he was a significant part of it. The Giants put a second-round tender on him this past March, so they obviously felt pretty strongly about him at that time. All signs point to Jones having a very good chance of helping the Vikings out quickly in 2018. Where exactly he will help out immediately or down the road remains to be seen, but it would surprise me if moving Elflein away from his natural position was in the cards at this point.

Do you think Kyle Sloter still has a chance to be the backup quarterback or is it already a foregone conclusion that Trevor Siemian will be?
-- Joel
Montana

Head coach Mike Zimmer quickly confirmed that Siemian was his backup when asked about it over the weekend, so the lack of equivocation from him on the matter tells me there’s a good chance Siemian will remain No. 2. There’s no question Sloter has gone out and impressed this preseason, and he should be given credit for that. Keep in mind, though, the level of competition for each player when they are taking turns in preseason games and also remember that Siemian has 24 regular season starts in this League while Sloter has none.

It was good to see the Vikings win against Seattle and the play by Sloter to hit Chad Beebe was outstanding. However, the first-team offensive line struggled to give Kirk Cousins the time to stretch the field and we were back to lots of crossing routes and flares, while the ground game just did not look threatening. Add to that Daniel Carlson’s kicking performance and the same woes we have had for a number of years, inconsistent offensive line play and kicking, are rearing their heads yet again. Are we going to dink and dunk our way to the playoffs?
-- Geoff Hansplant
Abington, PA

The Vikings starters compiled drives of 49, 95 and 64 yards that produced 13 1st downs and a touchdown, plus Cousins had three completion of 24 yards or longer, so I have to disagree with the assertion that the offensive line struggled to give Cousins time to stretch the field. There were some instances of pressure put on by Seattle while Cousins was in the game, but there were more instances in which Cousins had ample time to go through his progressions. A great example is on Latavius Murray’s 24-yard reception. Murray was the last read on the play and Cousins got to that read and still had plenty of time to step into the throw with no trash at his feet or hands in his face. The lack of downfield connection may have been caused by a combination of other things, but a lack of protection did not seem to be one of them to me. As for Carlson, obviously it’s not a good thing to miss two field goals. But Carlson has been very solid all of camp and the preseason leading up to the Seattle game, so I will let his body of work speak for itself and, as Zimmer said he would, chalk up Friday night to a bad outing.

On a scale of 1 to panic, how concerned should we be with our new kicker missing both field goal opportunities against the Seahawks considering he has no competition at this point and was indoors?
-- Immanuel Mueller
Janesville, MN

Panicking certainly won’t help, so I wouldn’t do that. Carlson is a rookie and he is the Vikings kicker, so it’s a long road ahead for the young man and I’m willing to forgive him for a couple of misses in the preseason given how good he’s looked this summer and the potential he has. I love the opportunities the Vikings are going to have to win the field position battle with his kickoffs and tack on bonus field goals with his leg strength.

Do you think with his absence from the preseason and the limited time he saw against Seattle, Brandon Zylstra still has a decent chance of making the team? It seemed like he was doing well in camp until he got injured. As a Concordia alum, I would love to see him get a chance; he's an excellent receiver.
-- Corey Hyde

Yes, I believe Zylstra has a decent chance of making the team. I won’t be surprised if he sees a lot of action in Nashville on Thursday night in the preseason finale and I also won’t be surprised if he looks good. His body of work going back to the beginning of Organized Team Activities has been very good. As is the case with my opinion on Carlson, the body of work dating back to April far outweighs concerns raised recently in a small sample size, such as missing two kicks in a preseason game or dealing with an injury the past two weeks.

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