Vikings-Cardinals: 10 players who stood out

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings faced off with the Arizona Cardinals at US Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Here are 10 players who had notable performances — good or bad.

Dalvin Cook

The Vikings elected to sit their starting running back in the first two preseason games but Cook showed that his lack of preseason work hasn’t had an impact on his burst. He rushed for an 85-yard touchdown, cutting back and breaking through the Arizona defense. Last year Cook set the NFL high for fastest top speed on a TD run against the Detroit Lions. He looked similar on Saturday. So his preseason stats finish like this: Two carries, 88 yards.

Kirk Cousins

After two strong performances to open the preseason, the Vikings’ quarterback had an abysmal day. Cousins went 3-for-13 with 35 yards. Without Adam Thielen in the lineup, Cousins struggled to find open receivers, several times throwing the ball into coverage. He was also sacked twice, once on a Kyle Rudolph whiff against a Cardinals linebaacker that allowed the Vikings’ QB to be taken down. By the end of his time on the field, Cousins looked noticeably frustrated.

Brandon Zylstra

With Thielen not in the lineup, the former CFL’er saw a large number of first-team reps in the first quarter, grabbing one pass for seven yards. As the Vikings continue to look for options at receiver, his playing time may indicate that Zylstra has a spot behind Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Chad Beebe.

Jayron Kearse 

Standing in for Harrison Smith, Kearse put together an excellent performance with the first team. He battled a Kyler Murray pass down at the line of scrimmage, would have had a fumble recovery had the play been overturned and had a pass breakup on a throw in his direction. Kearse should have a fairly significant role as a hybrid player this year. His growth has given the Vikings another weapon on defense.

Ameer Abdullah 

The former Lion missed last week’s game, putting his status up in the air. But he put together a solid performance on Saturday with two punt returns for 27 yards and had strong punt coverage as a gunner. His efforts as a running back were less impressive. With Alexander Mattison clearly the No. 2, however, Abdullah’s job will likely be determined by his special teams work.

Mike Boone got two opportunities to kick return and acted as a punt returner. He started the third quarter as the running back.

Xavier Rhodes

The Vikings starting cornerback looked off on Saturday.  He was burned off the line of scrimmage on one play and then  failed to make a tackle on another big gain. Considering some of his issues with injuries last year, there might be some reason for concern over Rhodes’ quickness. Of course, it is the preseason and he might have been simply playing conservatively.

Ifeadi Odenigbo

If the Vikings weren’t sure if they were keeping the former seventh-rounder, he strengthened his case for a roster spot on Saturday.  Odenigbo consistently rushed the passer and at one point tracked down Kyler Murray on an attempted rush. As soon as the backup QB entered the game, Odenigbo registered a hit on Brett Hundley. With experience inside and outside as a rusher, his versatility could allow the Vikings to use Odenigbo as an inside rusher on some third downs or outside when either DE needs a rest.

Kris Boyd

The seventh-round pick from Texas has seen almost no preseason action before Saturday’s game but he went in right after the starters against Arizona and played deep into the game. Early in camp Boyd seemed to be on a fast track to making the team but an injury slowed down his progress. Mike Zimmer said he’s been looking for a depth corner to step up. Boyd didn’t have any splash plays but may have done enough to be one of the depth DBs.

Kaare Vedvik

The Vikings gave the rookie the placekicking duties on Saturday. Two missed field goals (43, 54) and a strong punting performance could put Vedvik’s status into question. Despite trading a fifth-round pick for him, if the team feels he hasn’t done enough to be trusted as a punter or kicker, they will stick with Dan Bailey/Matt Wile.

Bisi Johnson

Behind Zylstra, Johnson has been the receiver who has most intrigued the Vikings. He received an early first-team rep on Saturday, then caught two passes on crossing routes, had a solid kick return and drew a pass interference penalty. At very least he has put himself in line for a practice squad job.