The Minnesota Vikings wrapped up their preseason slate in Buffalo against the Bills. Here are 10 players whose performances (or usage) were notable…
The Vikings will have a tough decision to make at wide receiver with Treadwell and Brandon Zylstra seemingly battling for the final spot. Chad Beebe and Bisi Johnson clearly won WR3 and WR4. Treadwell caught three passes for 30 yards in the first half of Thursday night’s game. The fact that he was playing at all may indicate another attempt to “showcase” him, as Mike Zimmer said after the second preseason game. It could also mean that he has a shot at remaining on the team if the Vikings can’t find a trade partner. While he hasn’t shown potential to be anything more than a replacement-level receiver, Treadwell at least has NFL experience. However, they may see Zylstra as having more potential.
Throughout the preseason, Boone has shined in the backfield. Against the Bills, he tacked on to his impressive highlight reel with a 17-yard carry. He was also used on one kickoff but did not get an opportunity to return. It’s worth reading into that Boone and Ameer Abdullah played on Thursday. Abdullah caught a touchdown pass and rushed five times for 21 yards. There appears to be a chance that the Vikings keep five running backs. It could also be the case that they gave Boone every opportunity to take the RB3 gig away from Abdullah.
At halftime on the broadcast, Mike Zimmer said Boone had a “heck of a half” and pointed out that he chased down a defender after a fumble (that was overturned).
“Mike Boone he flashed but this year he is so much more consistent and so much more patient as a runner,” GM Rick Spielman said on the team broadcast.
— PFF (@PFF) August 29, 2019
In the battle for practice squad jobs, Dillon has put his name on the map. He caught three passes for 40 yards and had a touchdown pass negated by a holding penalty in the first half. The Marian University product was mentioned by Mike Zimmer early in camp as a young player who stood out. Dillon does not seem to be adept as a blocker yet but if the Vikings see potential as a receiving option down the road, they will keep him on the practice squad. Dillon took an ugly hit in the fourth quarter that knocked off his helmet and drew a 15-yard penalty.
As the Vikings sort out their kicking/punting situation, Vedvik received all the placekicking opportunities in the first half. He missed his first field goal attempt, then hit an extra point and field goal from 27 yards. Vedvik also kicked off. He punted at the end of the game and allowed a return for touchdown.
It’s still unclear whether Vedvik ever had a chance to take away the kicking job from Bailey but a 54-yard bomb through the middle of the goal posts helped secure his position. He tacked on a fourth quarter 43-yarder for good measure. Punter Matt Wile held for Bailey.
There is an outside chance the Vikings keep four tight ends. On Thursday night Hikutini, who has had a solid preseason/camp, didn’t do anything to talk them out of it. He grabbed four passes for 45 yards. One pass that could have been a huge gain was just outside of his grasp. The Vikings kept Hikutini on the practice squad last year, so it’s clear they have some interest in him.
Following Kyle Sloter, the undrafted free agent quarterback from Washington saw his second chance to touch the field in the preseason. The Vikings could consider still keeping him on the practice squad if they only retain Kirk Cousins and Sean Mannion on the active roster. Browning moved the ball effectively, completing short passes and leading a long touchdown drive. He threw an interception on a hail mary attempt to end the game.
As the Vikings assess their depth at linebacker, they may have a tough call between fifth-round pick Cameron Smith and Downs, who was a 2018 seventh-rounder. Last year Downs spent the season as a special teamer, which might give him an edge. On Thursday night he led the team in tackles with six.
Early in the matchup with the Bills, Schult picked up the only QB hit on the Vikings defense. Then in the fourth quarter, the former AAF’er picked up a strip sack on Tyree Jackson after beating his man around the edge. He has routinely been a difference maker late in preseason games. Considering Stephen Weatherly and Ifeadi Odenigbo are locks for the roster, Schult has a chance to make the practice squad.
The Vikings have clearly wanted to get looks at Mata’afa in different situations. In the third preseason game he played with the first team as a third down rusher but on Thursday night he was in the game in the fourth quarter, which isn’t a promising sign for the former Washington State defensive lineman. He could be a candidate for the practice squad if the Vikings feel there is more potential in his undersized body but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they moved on. Mata’afa finished the final preseason game with three tackles and one QB hit.