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By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - The Minnesota Vikings wrapped up the 2012 preseason last night with a roller coaster 28-24 loss to the Houston Texans. On paper, the Vikings dominated the game but it was big plays on both sides that tilted the game in favor of Houston.
With Cut-Day upon us, the 45 players that saw time for the Vikings last night had a lot to prove with roster spots on the line, but only some of them were able to deliver. The way I saw the game (and heard it on 100.3FM since TV audio was whacked) here is a list of players that helped themselves and a list of players that may have hurt their stock last night in Houston.
Audie Cole - Audie Cole splashed early in the preseason getting a sack on his first play in the NFL (SF) and nobody will soon forget his back-to-back interceptions returned for touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills. Getting his first opportunity at extensive playing time, Cole had five tackles last night and ALWAYS seemed to be around the ball. General manager Rick Spielman joined KFAN in the booth during the third quarter and with a little help from Cole's biggest fan (KFAN's Paul Allen), Spielman had good things to say about their seventh round draft selection. Linebackers are thin for the Vikings so Cole could legitimately see some time this year if he continues to progress.
Jarius Wright - Marred in the midst of both the wide receiver battle and the battle for punt returner, rookie Jarius Wright reeled in six passes for 122 yards and a TD (59yds) last night against the Texans. The 118th pick in the 2012 draft, Wright's skill set was compared to that of Percy Harvin coming out of college but the rookie battled injuries and a rough learning curve through Training Camp. Getting his opportunity to shine last night, Wright validated the Vikings 4th round selection and, in my mind, solidified his spot on this team.
Devin Aromashodu - Devin Aromashodu is likely living on borrowed time. With Jerome Simpson out the first three weeks of the season, Devin will likely make the team's 53-man roster as their only down field threat in the passing game. Last night, Aromashodu's play suggested that maybe his stay could be a little more of a long term endeavor. Devin finished the night early in the third quarter with five catches for 89 yards and a TD (58yds). Aromashodu has been inconsistent throughout his career but his big play abilities have kept his name in the mix and that's not going to change this year.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson - It wasn't the dream performance that MBT had hoped for, but it got off to a fast start and may have been enough to earn him a spot on the Vikings final 53. McLeod led the Vikings on a 4-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped off with a perfect ball slipped in between the late coming safety and the cornerback that resulted in a 59-yard TD pass to Jarius Wright. The rest of MBT's night was not quite as exciting but he proved that he has the ability to manage the game and continues to show glimpses of what could be. MBT's final line read like this...15-for-29 passing for 193 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Final passer rating, 70.0.
Larry Dean - Backup linebacker Larry Dean finished his night with two tackles and a fumble recovery. Not an awful stat line, but if you watched the game last night, you know that Dean should have had somewhere in the ballpark of seven or eight tackles. Missed tackles highlighted Dean's night and unfortunately a couple of them came on big plays that resulted in scores for the Texans. Those sorts of things show up glaringly on film. Dean's true value comes on special teams but last night saw fellow linebackers Audie Cole and Tyrone McKenzie shine on special teams as well. Dean has an uphill battle to make this team as coaches review the preseason in its entirety today.
Emmanuel Arceneaux - With Frazier saying that five of the six receivers currently on the 75-man roster would make the final 53, Emmanuel Arceneaux may have solidified himself as the odd-man out. Targeted seven times last night, Manny brought in only two passes for 28 yards. Some of those may not have been his fault but there were a handful in which Arceneaux simply did not see the ball or failed to adjust to bring in the pass. With Aromashodu and Wright having big nights last night, Arceneaux is likely headed to waivers and ultimately the practice squad.
Reggie Jones - Reggie was a long shot to make this team from the get go but it's going to be tough for coaches to forget seeing Jones muff a punt and getting flat run over when tackling. Even in a weak secondary, Reggie Jones doesn't seem to be a fit with the direction that the Vikings are moving.
Blair Walsh - Let's be clear right off the bat, there is no way that Blair Walsh is not the opening day kicker for the Minnesota Vikings. That said, the rookie kicker from Georgia is leaving a handful of concerns on the table as the Vikings head into week one against Jacksonville on September 9th. Walsh missed a 42-yard attempt last night giving him one missed field goal in each of the last three games. As it stands, Walsh will enter the regular season 9-of-12 on field goals with all three misses coming from between 42 and 49 yards. There's no question about whether
"Cut-Day" is today for the Vikings and the rest of the league. Final rosters must be submitted to the league by 8pm (CDT).
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings' updates and breaking Vikings' news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjMansourKFAN
*Photo - Pat Sullivan/AP Photo