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NOTEBOOK: Vikings Youngsters Impress in Preseason vs Raiders

 


Photo - Hannah Foslien (Getty Images)

By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
@AjKFAN

Minneapolis, MN - Preseason game number one for the Minnesota Vikings went off well and without any major hitches. There were no injuries, the team got it's first real game experience of the year and if you care about these sorts of things, they won!

Here are some observations from Friday night's 10-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders...

Matt Cassel looking good...
Most of the first team offense played a total of two drives Friday night but for quarterback Matt Cassel it was just one, but a pretty one it was. Cassel and the number ones constructed a beautiful 10 play, 70 yard touchdown drive in which Matt was 5/6 for 62 yards.

"I thought he did a great job," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "He played like a veteran, he had control in the huddle, the communication between Norv and Scott and him was very, very good."

Cassel seemed to be comfortable in the pocket and was spreading the ball out well. Of his five completions, he found Cordarrelle Patterson twice, Greg Jennings once and Kyle Rudolph for a 22-yard hit (his fifth completion was a dump off to Asiata). Matt finished the night with a 109.7 passer rating.

Teddy still has some learning to do...
Statistically speaking, Teddy Bridgewater didn't have the greatest night on his NFL debut. But with the butterflies out of the way, Friday night's experience will prove valuable as the young buck continues to fight for playing time this year.

"There were little bitty things that he needs to smooth out and just get a little bit more composed," Mike Zimmer said. "Things happened that he hadn’t see before, and so those are all great experiences for him. He made some great throws and there was a couple mishaps he had, but I think Teddy is going to be a great player."

Teddy finished out the first half and returned for one series in the second, finishing the night 6 of 13 passing for 49 yards, a passer rating of 56.2. His playing time overlapped a bit between the first team and the second team and there was a noticeable difference between the protection that he was getting. Still, he held on to the ball a little to long a few times, he held the ball a little too loose one time, but all-in-all Teddy didn't go out there and look lost. In fact, he looks really good on the move, boot-legs and play actions stuck out last night as a strength of his.

"I feel like it went pretty good," Bridgewater said after the game. "There were some missed opportunities, but I’ll be able to come back next week and play more aggressive."

Aggressive defensive front yields low number for Raider offense...
Through one meaningless game, the Mike Zimmer defense is everything that it was touted to be. Having it be stripped down to just a handful of different formations for this first preseason game, we saw all sorts of different alignments from the Vikings defense disguising those formations. At one point, there were seven bodies up on the line ready to pressure, leaving the Raiders unprepared for who was coming and who was dropping in coverage.

Even though it was a preseason game, we saw George Edwards and Mike Zimmer bring pressure from all different angles, and the aggressive styled front was successful. The first team defense held the Raiders to two straight three-and-outs in the first quarter and the entire defensive unit only allowed six points to be scored.

Rookie Anthony Barr got his first half-sack in the NFL. Second-year linebacker Gerald Hodges had a good game, flying all over the field making tackles, tackles for loss and pressures.

"We kind of set the tempo," Zimmer said after the game. "I wanted to make sure I find out where we are as a football team. We will evaluate it all tomorrow as coaches and sit down and kind of figure out what we need to get this football team where it needs to be and go from there."

Rookie running back Jerick McKinnon has impressive night...
The fans surely didn't know much about running back Jerick McKinnon (pictured above) when the Vikings drafted him in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft, but they are sure to be paying attention to him now!

After his first professional action McKinnon was part of the talk in the locker room. On 12 carries, Jerick rushed for 45 yards (3.8 yards per rush) but did so COMPLETELY behind the second team offensive line! He looks incredibly shifty, lickety split quick and looked really good putting the moves on Charles Woodson, effectively breaking the veterans ankles (not really) and scooting past him for a long run in the first.

"Jerick has got great acceleration, he’s got great hands, he’s tough, he’s thick, he’s powerful and it showed," Mike Zimmer said after the game.

Still with room to grow, the Vikings look like they might have a contributor in McKinnon.

Adam Thielen gets the imaginary game ball...
Second-year player from Minnesota State Mankato Adam Thielen would have gotten the imaginary game ball last night for his performance on the field.

Already turning heads in Training Camp, Thielen took to the field at TCF Bank Stadium and translated everything that he's been doing well. On offense he made a great 15 yards catch from Teddy Bridgewater. On punt return he had 3 returns for 52 yards, an average of 17.3 yards. And on punt coverage he made a HUGE hit on a Raider and definitely got himself noticed.

"Adam had a heck of a catch on third down," Zimmer said. "Then he returned a nice punt, he went down and covered kicks. You know we got a saying here, 'the more you can do.'"

 

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