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Vikings-Rams Notebook: Blair Walsh Caps Strong Preseason

MINNEAPOLIS — So far, so good for Vikings kicker Blair Walsh inside U.S. Bank Stadium.

Walsh nailed a pair of field goals and two extra points Thursday against the Rams in a 27-25 win, a victory that came just four days after he hit all three field goal tries Sunday against San Diego.

With Walsh making five field goals in a four-day span, he said he's ready to turn his attention to the regular season. Walsh made seven of eight field goals and all six of his PAT tries in four preseason games.

"I need this little break for the body," Walsh said. "We've kicked a lot these last two games.

"That's good, that's what you want, to get in that rhythm," he added. "We're ready to go and we're clicking well on special teams."

The stadium's pivoting glass doors were open for the first time Thursday night, although Walsh said he couldn't tell a difference than Sunday when the doors were closed.

"It was fantastic," Walsh said. "You couldn't ask for a much better venue than this stadium.

"You didn't even feel anything on the field," he added about the doors. "If they want to open them then they can open them."

Running back tandem

The Vikings played two running backs on Thursday. C.J. Ham opened the game in the backfield and rushed 15 times for 59 yards, including a 1-yard plunge. Jhurell Pressley rushed 14 times for 29 yards and led the Vikings with four receptions on four targets for 49 yards that were highlighted by a 28-yard catch-and-run.

"We've seen a lot of stuff from them over the time," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "Pressley is a guy that has great acceleration and I think you saw it in that kickoff return and on the touchdown. Ham is a physical, pounding kind of guy that does a lot of the dirty work inside. I think they're both good and one of the big things with all young backs is about protection and making sure they get the right guys blocked so you don't get your quarterback killed. I thought they did a nice job."

Two quarterbacks as well

With Teddy Bridgewater out for the year, and Shaun Hill waiting in the wings to start the regular-season opener at Tennessee on Sept. 11, the Vikings started undrafted Joel Stave, who went 9-of-18 passing for 76 yards. He left the game with a hand injury and was replaced by Brad Sorensen, who was released Tuesday during roster reductions from 75 to 53 and re-signed Wednesday, a day after Bridgewater's injury. Sorensen went 4-of-9 for 53 yards and the touchdown pass to Pressley.

When asked, Zimmer said he thought Stave managed the game well and could have come back in the game, but the coach wanted Sorensen to have the opportunity to play.

"I thought he threw the ball well," Zimmer said. "Obviously now at this point he's got a much better understanding of the offense than he had when he first came in here in the spring. He's a good kid."

Asked if Stave was in the Vikings mind to back up Hill, Zimmer said, "Yeah, he's always in consideration. We'll just see where that goes."

Special guest

Several Vikings, including Zimmer, **visited Bridgewater** while he was hospitalized. Bridgewater returned to Winter Park on Thursday and was greeted warmly.

"He was in the training room today. I think it was good for Teddy, too," Zimmer said. "When I walked in the training room there were probably 20 guys in there and they're all sitting on the training tables talking to him, joking around like they always do. It was good for not only us but for Teddy as well."

Wright's night

Jarius Wright missed time this preseason because of an injury suffered during training camp, but Zimmer said he liked what he saw from the most-tenured Vikings receiver on Thursday. Wright had three catches for 35 yards.  

"It was important for him to play some tonight because he had been injured," Zimmer said. "He went out there and showed well I thought, made some catches. Kind of does what Jarius always does when he gets in there; he goes and makes plays. It's good to see him get out there, we're going to need him."

Roster redux

Teams across the league are scheduled to reduce rosters from 75 to 53 players on Saturday. That's 704 players who were close to fulfilling their dream on a regular-season roster. Some will be eligible for teams' 10-player practice squads in a league where opportunities present themselves throughout a season.

It's a tough time for players and coaches.

"I know that you saw a lot of guys here in this last ball game that were playing their hearts out to win and give their best showing they possibly can," Zimmer said. "Unfortunately some of them will be gone. They did a lot of good things, there's 31 other teams that might be looking at them. So we'll sit down with the tape tomorrow like we always do and evaluate and then kind of put the whole thing together. It's not all just about tonight. It's all through preseason, training camp, making sure they're the kind of guys we want on the football team. Make sure they're the kind of workers we want and then go about it from there."  

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