10 (or so) players who stood out in Vikings-Seahawks

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings faced off with the Seattle Seahawks at US Bank Stadium in preseason action. Here are the players (and others) who were difference makers (good or bad) in Sunday night’s contest….


As per usual, the referees were a story in a preseason game. The NFL’s attempt to work out pass interference challenges continued, starting with a long completion to Adam Thielen that was unsuccessfully challenged by Pete Carroll. The play had no discernible reason to challenge other than that it was a big play. The referees quickly dismissed the challenge. They did correctly call an interference penalty on Seattle on a 45-yard throw.

Mike Zimmer challenged a third-down reception but was unsuccessful as the receiver appeared to get both feet in. The limited number of replay angles may have made it more difficult for the Vikings to tell whether the Seattle receiver was in bounds. Later in the half, Zimmer failed to challenge an obvious interference call on a throw in Bisi Johnson’s direction. The next play turned out to be a pick-six.

The slew of referee-related things slowed down significantly in the second half, thankfully.

Adam Thielen

For the second straight week, Kirk Cousins seemed interested in throwing the ball up deep to Thielen. He made a 34 yard catch and drew 45-yard interference. There aren’t too many better players in the league at making over-the-head catches, which is partly behind the Kubiak/Stefanski push for him to be targeted deep more often. Put one Thielen play under the category of questionable: The Vikings dialed up a jet sweep for him.

Interior of defensive line 

Following the preseason opener in which they were somewhat effective against the New Orleans Saints, Jalyn Holmes and Hercules Mata’afa were far less effective in place of starters Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen. It is clear that the Vikings want to use Stephen on a high percentage of plays but Holmes and Mata’afa have been given the chance to become situational rusher. However, if they continue to perform at Sunday night’s level, we could see Stephen Weatherly used on the interior on key third downs. Mata’afa played nearly the entire game, giving the indication that Zimmer wants to see a large sample size of him on the field.

Armon Watts entered with the second team and created an immediate push up the middle. He was credited with a half sack of Paxton Lynch.

Sean Mannion

The Vikings’ backup opened up his second appearance in purple by moving the ball into scoring position with a number of quick throws. But he followed up a strong drive by throwing a pick-six on a play that appeared to have a miscommunication with Chad Beebe. Mannion came back with a TD drive, led by a long run after catch by Mike Boone and capped off by an easy throw to tight end Irv Smith. Mannion went 11-for-14 with 88 yards. Presently there is no backup quarterback battle. It’s Mannion’s job.

Alexander Mattison

The Vikings’ third-round pick played in place of Dalvin Cook for the second straight game. The offensive line’s early struggles against Seattle’s defensive line caused him to get caught in the backfield several times but on more than one occasion he broke tackles to gain yardage. When the second team came in, he saw more space to run and gained a 22 yards on a cut back. Overall he picked up 41 yards on 10 carries.

Irv Smith 

The Vikings’ second-round tight end had an inauspicious start last week against the Saints. While he didn’t light US Bank Stadium on fire with vertical routes, he grabbed five passes for 28 yards and a touchdown. Two of the receptions were on quick out routes in which he found space. It will be interesting to see whether the Vikings open things up for him more in the final preseason game.

Jayron Kearse

Anthony Harris is the clear starter but Kearse came in and made an instant impact, picking up three tackles for loss within the first several plays. He nearly picked off an errant pass from Lynch early in the third quarter. After a spotty start to his career, Kearse has moved his way into a role as a “big nickel.”

Kaare Vedvik 

The punter/kicker was just punter on Sunday night. His first boot traveled 38 yards and landed inside the 20. His follow-up punts traveled 54 and 48 yards. Both were line drives that gave Seattle’s returner space to operate. Dan Bailey handled the kicking duties in the first half, making one 24-yard field goal and one extra point. Vedvik made an extra point in the third quarter.

Brandon Zylstra 

As the wide receiver competition raged on, Zylstra rose to the challenge on Sunday night, catching five passes for 37 yards and a touchdown between the second and third quarters. Gary Kubiak expressed his admiration last week for the former CFL’er, who was injured early in camp but was good enough to make the squad last year. Jeff Badet and Jordan Taylor saw a large number of third quarter snaps. Badet came away with one catch and one rush while Taylor missed an opportunity to grab a contested catch down the sideline.

Mike Boone 

With Ameer Abdullah out, Boone saw a ton of snaps, starting in the second quarter. His explosiveness was once again on display as he opened with a 45-yard catch. The door is definitely open for Boone to take the No. 3 job if the Vikings feel confident in any other returners and if they feel Boone can be some type of contributor on offense. The Vikings’ run blocking was not very effective as the Seahawks blew up numerous Boone runs in the backfield.

Ifeadi Odenigbo

The 2017 seventh-rounder continued to make his case for a backup defensive end spot by putting three hits on QB Paxton Lynch and picking up a half sack. He was routinely beating Seattle’s tackle throughout the night.

Jake Browning

Did not see action on Sunday night as Sloter played the entire second half. That doesn’t bode well for his chances to win the No. 3 job.

Holton Hill

Hill was ejected for a senseless hit to the head of Lynch late in the fourth quarter. With an eight-game suspension on his resume already it’s hard to justify Hill still having a uniform.