Notebook: Mannion Placing ‘My Best Foot Forward Every Day’

EAGAN, Minn. — With a little more than a week left in the preseason, Sean Mannion isn’t going to make any bold statements proclaiming he should be the Vikings backup quarterback.

The fifth-year veteran knows he won’t make that decision anyway; that’s up to Minnesota’s front office and coaching staff.

Instead, Mannion said he’s just going to keep approaching every day the same and do his best to be on the Vikings 53-man roster when it’s announced next weekend.

“That’s not for me to say,” Mannion said. “I feel really strongly that I’ve put my best foot forward every day since I’ve been here. I felt great about my spring, and I’ve felt great about my camp and the two preseason games so far. I’m not going to worry myself with what other people are thinking.

“All I can focus on is playing my best football and getting better each day and owning the playbook and game plan, and I feel like I’ve done that,” Mannion added. “I’m proud of what I’ve done in that regard, and I feel like I’ve put my best foot forward, but those are other people’s decisions. I’m happy with what I’ve done so far.”

Mannion has taken the second-team reps behind Kirk Cousins during training camp and in preseason games. He is familiar with what Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski is looking for based on the quarterback’s history in the league.

The former third-round pick of the Rams has completed 18 of 25 passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for a passer rating of 96.2 this preseason.

“I feel great. Really, I think even since Phase 1 [of the offseason program] when we weren’t even on the field, I felt like this was a system that was going to fit me really well,” Mannion said. “There’s some similarities with what we were running in L.A. And then all the concepts we’re running and all the footwork we’re asked to do, it’s stuff I’m familiar with and feel comfortable with.

“We have such a talented group on offense that you feel great just going out there and playing and executing,” Mannion added. “Once you really know the system like the back of your hand, then you’re just reacting, and that’s where you want to be.”

The quarterback did have a blemish Sunday against Seattle, as a miscommunication with wide receiver Chad Beebe led to a pick-six for the Seahawks.

Mannion shouldered the blame for the interception.

“Just something where we weren’t quite on the same page,” Mannion said. “That’s something we need to work out, and it takes time.

“The more we’re together and the more I understand his body language and the more he understands what I’m looking for, we’ll get on the same page with that,” Mannion added. “I’m the one with the ball, so I’m the one who can make it right.”

Mannion responded after the turnover, later leading a touchdown drive with less than two minutes left in the second quarter. He hit Irv Smith, Jr., for a 3-yard touchdown with just over a minute left in the half.

“I’m not happy that happened, but I’m happy that happened in preseason game No. 2,” Stefanski said. “We can learn from it as an offense, and he can learn from it. The kid bounced back and led a perfect drive.

“If that happens in the course of a ballgame, if that happens in the course of practice, you’ll have a bad rep, and you really have to move on,” Stefanski said. “We don’t have time to think about it. I was proud of how Sean bounced back from that.”

Weatherly goes up and down

Stephen Weatherly is being used at a different spot on third downs, moving inside as a pass rusher rather than his usual defensive end spot.

But the fourth-year player’s transition inside on specific plays has had some ups and downs so far, in part because he’s been asked to rush the passer standing up rather than with his hand on the ground.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer mentioned Tuesday that he had a chat with Weatherly about his new role, and how to effectively rush the passer while standing up.

“One of the things is when you stand up, obviously your pad level’s a lot higher, so if I do stand up, be able to re-dip my pad level and play low so I can be effective in moving 300-pound dudes,” Weatherly said. “Yeah, that’s one of the things we talked about.”

Did Weatherly understand what Zimmer wanted?

Coach Zim’s very, like, ‘A, B, C.,’ ” Weatherly said. “So I’m like, ‘Cool, got it. A, B, C.’ Loud and clear.”

Weatherly, a seventh-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2016, stood up near the line of scrimmage as an outside linebacker in college. He recorded the first three sacks of his career in 2018.

“I still have my same keys, I still have my same reads, I still have my same get-off, same low pad level, same moves that I work on the outside,” Weatherly said. “But … everything happens way quicker.

“So if anything, just for me personally, I have to increase my reaction time, but other than that, I just have to stay on track and keep doing those same things so I can still be as effective on the inside as I am on the outside,” Weatherly added.

View exclusive black-and-white images from the Vikings game against the Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Hometown kids

It’s well-known that Adam Thielen grew up watching the likes of Randy Moss and Cris Carter.

But there was a non-Viking he enjoyed watching, too, in Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald, who went to high school in Minneapolis.

Over the years, Thielen has gone from someone who admires Fitzgerald from afar to becoming friends with him.

“It’s pretty cool,” Thielen said. “It’s kind of crazy to think about our friendship now just because I grew up watching him in college and wearing that No. 1 jersey [at Pittsburgh] and making a lot of plays, and then getting drafted high and going and making plays for the amount of years he has is so cool.

“And now to be able to see him in the offseason and play golf with him and have a relationship with him, there’s not a better guy out there, and a more caring guy,” Thielen added. “He’s just a high-class guy that does it the right way and is a true professional and a guy that I’ve looked up to for a long time.”

Fitzgerald ranks second all-time behind Jerry Rice with 16,279 receiving yards, and is third in league history with 1,303 career receptions. He is tied for sixth with 116 touchdown catches.

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