MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings and Dolphins capped their preseasons on Thursday by resting their starters in a 30-9 Miami win, almost immediately turning their attention to final roster decisions and preparing for Week 1 of the regular season.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said he was disappointed that the Vikings "made too many mistakes tonight, gave up too many big plays defensively" and were unable to finish offensive possessions with points.
He did say that he thinks a procedural change that delayed all roster reductions until the final preseason games for all teams will be beneficial across the league.
"I think it was a good opportunity for these young guys to get a fourth preseason game in," Zimmer said. "You've got another chance to get out there and evaluate a lot of the different guys."
The Vikings and all teams must reduce their rosters from 90 players to 53 on Saturday.
"I think there's some guys, probably several guys that were kind of on the bubble that ended up getting a lot of playing time tonight, so it's another chance to get us another evaluation out of them," Zimmer said. "I personally feel like having the fourth preseason game and the cuts after that is better in the fact that if you cut them earlier and they get picked up by another team, they've got one week to try to learn everything. It's just difficult. This way I think you get a truer evaluation of what it is because they've been doing these things really since OTAs, most of them."
With 32 teams making 37 reductions, that's 1,184 players who could hit the waiver wire, which Zimmer said the Vikings will watch over the weekend.
"Whatever the 53 that we have this weekend [is] doesn't mean it's going to be the same 53 when we're lining up on Monday night," Zimmer said.
Floyd solid in preseason:
As the Vikings reduce their roster, veteran Michael Floyd, a Minnesota native who signed with the Vikings this offseason, will slide into the suspended category and not count against the 53-man limit. Floyd will serve a four-game suspension but will be able to attend meetings with teammates and stay connected with the game plan.
"I think that's really important that not only for him and making sure he's staying on the right path, but being able to come in and stay related to the football part," Zimmer said. "He can still get into the weight room and do those things and be able to go out on his own and run routes. I think all that stuff is much, much better than having a guy go away from the facility for a number of weeks."
Floyd had an impressive training camp and played a considerable amount of time in Thursday's game. He was targeted twice but did not have a reception.
Zimmer was asked if he saw enough of Floyd to have an accurate assessment and said, "I did. I do think so."
"He does a lot of really good things that do not show up on the stat lines," Zimmer said. "He's an excellent blocker, he's physical, he makes contested catches, I think he's really good with that. I think Sam [Bradford] has good flow with him as well."
Floyd spoke with the media after the game and said he felt he got better with more time in the Vikings system.
"I think I gradually got better, each and every single day," Floyd said. "It's always kind of tough coming into a new offense and learning it, but when you have good teammates and good coaches, and you always stay in the playbook, it kind of comes natural. That's football for me."
Vikings play two QBs:
The Vikings started Taylor Heinicke in Thursday's game, but he was unable to pick up where he left off from Sunday when he engineered a dramatic comeback. Heinicke finished 9-of-20 passing for 93 yards with one touchdown pass. He also was sacked twice, including a safety late in the first half, and left the game after the play.
Zimmer said Heinicke is in the concussion protocol.
Former Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner replaced Heinicke and played the entire second half, completing 14 of 19 passes for 129 yards.* *"I thought he did good for being here a short time," Zimmer said.
Leidner had been working for Bite Squad part time when he was called and signed by the Vikings two weeks ago.
"It was a lot of fun, great to be back playing ball again," Leidner said. "You know for a while there, I didn't think it would happen, but these guys in this locker room and this coaching staff are honestly one of the best I've ever been a part of.
"These guys were willing to help me learn, and they believed in me when I got in the game."
View game action images as the Vikings battle the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night for the final preseason game of 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
As the current Gophers were beginning the P.J. Fleck era across town, Leidner and other former Gophers were involved in the Vikings-Dolphins game.
Isaac Fruechte, who helped get Leidner up to speed with extra work after practices daily, caught one pass for nine yards for the Vikings.
MarQueis Gray caught four passes for 19 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown for the Dolphins.