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Vikings 1st-Team Offense Wants Better Performance Going Forward

MINNEAPOLIS — If you watched joint practices between the Vikings and Jaguars this week, the first half of Saturday's preseason game wasn't a surprise.

Especially when the Vikings first-team offense was on the field.

Minnesota's starting unit ran 16 plays for 13 total yards against the Jaguars in the second preseason game of the year, going up against a Jaguars defense that finished second in the league (behind the Vikings) in points and yards allowed per game in 2017.

"Their defense got after us pretty good," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "That's kind of how it looked all week.

"It wasn't very good football on our part today," Zimmer also added. "I don't think we did much offensively."

Added Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph: "Of course it's disappointing when you have missed assignments and turn the ball over and do things that beat you. [Zimmer] says all the time that if you don't beat yourself, then you'll win eight games. We definitely beat ourselves today."

Cousins and the first-team offense were on the field for four total drives against the Jaguars, punting twice, fumbling and getting a 44-yard field goal from Kai Forbath.

The quarterback completed three of eight passes for 12 yards and was sacked once for an 11-yard loss. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell had two catches for eight yards, and fullback C.J. Ham had one reception for four yards.

"There were a couple of misthrows, couple of fumbles, a couple of penalties. I think it was kind of the gamut," Cousins, who had a passer rating of 45.8, said of the offensive performance. "When you do that, it's hard to move the football. I think so many times, you have to play flawless in terms of execution to give yourself a chance.

"The minute there is a mistake of any kind, whether it be on a poor throw [or] a mental error, it can set you back, and it's hard to recover," Cousins added.

Added Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen: "Honestly, there's a lot of factors that lead into it. Sometimes you start games like that, trying to figure out what the defense is going to give you. At the same time, we weren't executing. We weren't getting open as receivers and catching the ball."

Said Zimmer of Cousins: "I think he can play a lot better."

Latavius Murray had six carries for 12 yards, and had an 11-yard run on the day. But the running back had two fumbles, including one that was recovered by the Jaguars.

Murray fumbled earlier in the game, but it was recovered by Minnesota. His second fumble came on the Vikings first offensive play after safety Harrison Smith intercepted Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles and returned it to Jacksonville's 30-yard line.

"[I was just] trying to make plays, but there are situations how I know I can be different and be better," Murray said. "And I will be better. Just trying to make a play, but I can't do that and can't turn the ball over.

"I'm not going to run afraid or anything like that, I'm going to try to run to score," Murray later added. "But I have to take care of the ball, and that's the most important thing."

The Vikings starting offensive line consisted of left tackle Riley Reiff, left guard Tom Compton, center Cornelius Edison, right guard Danny Isidora and right tackle Aviante Collins. A handful of starting linemen, including Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers, are working their way back from injuries.

The offensive performance didn't match the excitement of Minnesota's only series for the starters in the preseason opener against Denver, an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive against the Broncos.

Cousins completed all four of his passes for 42 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown to Diggs, and the wide receiver had three catches for 35 yards to pace the offense in Denver.

Murray led the running game against the Broncos with four carries for 43 yards, including a pair of 20-plus yard runs.

The Vikings now have a week to prepare for the third preseason contest, which is at home at 7 p.m. (CT) Friday against the Seattle Seahawks.

Minnesota's offensive starters could play into the third quarter in that preseason showcase, giving Cousins and his teammates a chance to keep progressing as the regular season looms.

"You just have to use it as a chance to get better, make corrections and get back to work," Cousins said. "Like Coach Zimmer said, probably not the worst thing in the long run to realize we have got a lot of work to do.

"If you want to call it a wakeup call, that's fine," Cousins added. "It'll get us ready to go when we get back on Monday."