Another week, another preseason victory.
By Jordan Wright
We all know preseason games don’t count, but I think it’s impressive that Mike Zimmer is undefeated in the preseason through seven games. Luckily for the Vikings they didn’t sustain any major injuries this week, unlike the Green Bay Packers who appear to have unfortunately lost Jordy Nelson for the year. While Green Bay is a rival of the Vikings, it’s always sad to hear of any player sustaining a serious injury.
This week the Vikings hosted the Oakland Raiders, which marked the return of Christian Ponder. Ponder entered TCF Bank Stadium to a chorus of boos, but it seemed to me the boos were mostly directed at him in a joking manner. Both teams had to battle Mother Nature, as the wind was strong and lightning was in the air. At one point during the second quarter, fans and players were forced to find shelter, with the delay lasting longer than an hour.
Teddy Bridgewater and the first team offense started out sluggish, but eventually found their rhythm. Bridgewater finished the day going 10-of- 14 for 89 yards, including a beautiful touchdown pass to Charles Johnson. It’s clear the two of them have developed a strong connection, and Johnson looks like Teddy’s go-to receiver.
The Vikings starting defense was strong once again, limiting Oakland and allowing the offense time to get on track. Anthony Barr returned to the field, after missing the final four games of last season and the first two preseason games this year. The coaching staff clearly didn’t want to thrust Barr into playing a ton of minutes, and as a result there weren’t a lot of plays where he stood out, but he did have a tipped ball to go along with a couple tackles.
There were a few performances that stood out during the game. Michael Harris, the starting right guard, was far and away the highest rated offensive player according to Pro Football Focus. Harris didn’t allow the quarterback to get hit, let alone sacked, and he also opened up some nice holes for the game. It was great to see Harris take a step in the right direction, especially with Phil Loadholt lost for the season.
Defensively, Josh Thomas had a great game. Mike Zimmer has raved about Thomas during press conferences, and it was great to see his play translate from the practice field to game day. Thomas is entering his fifth season in the NFL, and has bounced around quite a bit, as Minnesota is his fifth team. Cornerback is a fairly deep position (how long has it been since we could say that?) so Thomas has an uphill battle to make the roster, with Rhodes, Newman, Waynes and Munnerlyn clearly ahead of him on the depth chart. However, Thomas has a chance to make the roster since Josh Robinson is injured and Jabari Price suspended the first two games of the regular season.
There was some sloppy play on both sides of the ball, but the biggest cause for concern has to be Blair Walsh. Walsh has attempted six field goals this preseason, and has missed four of them. Those numbers are not going to cut it in the NFL. Not only did Walsh miss all three of his field goal attempts on Saturday, he also missed an extra point. He left 10 points on the field and needless to say Coach Zimmer was not too happy about it.
Next up, the Vikings take on the Dallas Cowboys Saturday, August 29. This will be the second to last preseason game for the Vikings, and we should see the starters play into the third quarter. This game will be a great test for the Vikings, as the Cowboys have a high powered offense lead by Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Dallas also boasts one of the best offensive lines in the league, so it will be a great test for Minnesota’s defensive line.
If you have any questions or comments, I encourage you to reach out to me on Twitter (@ SkolJWright) or on Facebook (facebook.com/ skoljwright).