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It’s crazy to think the Minnesota Vikings are already heading into their third preseason game. After winning their first two preseason contests, Minnesota’s looking for progress rather than another win. They’ll face the top pick in the NFL draft on Sunday in Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals. Murray should get a good number of reps in the third preseason game, meaning we also watch the Vikings defense try to stop him. As the preseason goes on, we get to see the starters more, but it seems the Minnesota Vikings have other players to focus on this week.
Kyler Murray vs. Minnesota Vikings defense
Murray’s struggled at times adapting to the NFL game. Granted, he’s also working with a rookie head coach in Kliff Kingsbury, so there’s a learning curve for both. Starting with snapping the football. Arizona was called for multiple penalties for snap infractions based on how Murray was clapping his hands. That will get fixed, but it was just a sign of what both Murray and Kingsbury needed to learn.
In college, Murray could run away from anyone. He’s finding that’s not the case in the NFL. Now he faces a Minnesota Vikings defense that swarms to the football, and maintains great leverage. Whether he’s running away from Danielle Hunter or Anthony Barr, he’ll need to make smart decisions. Throwing against a great Minnesota Vikings secondary provides challenges as well. If Murray’s learning, we’ll see it this week. Vikings fans might hold their breath a lot if he gets loose, but it’s entertainment for the general NFL fan too.
Kyle Sloter’s role
Kyle Sloter’s success in the preseason continues, but it’s not impressing everyone. Mike Zimmer continues to favor Sean Mannion as the backup to Kirk Cousins, with Sloter in the third spot. It doesn’t appear that Sloter’s getting chances with the second group, and it’s not sounding like that’s the case in practice either.
A guy who’s yet to throw an interception in the preseason deserves a new challenge. If Zimmer’s not impressed with Sloter, let’s see what he can do against better competition. That’s the only way to know how good he can be. I’m sure Zimmer has a plan, and maybe this is just his way to keep Sloter focused. Mannion’s been solid too, so it’s not like there’s a huge gap between the two. Whatever Sloter’s role might be, it’s evident that he can play. As the preseason progresses, it becomes less and less likely that we see him play more. With less opportunities to showcase his skills, he might be stuck in his current position unless someone gets injured.
Rookies standing out
Dalvin Cook didn’t play against Seattle last week, so we saw Alexander Mattison once again. It appears that he’ll be the backup running back after rushing 10 times for 41 yards last week. Mike Boone, though not a rookie, continues to push Mattison with his performance (111 total yards) as well.
We saw tight end Irv Smith Jr. take a step in his production last week with five catches for 28 yards. Elsewhere catching the ball, we haven’t learned much. After making a couple of nice catches in the first game, Olabisi Johnson didn’t catch any last week. Neither did Dillon Mitchell, though he did return two kicks for a total of 46 yards. Laquon Treadwell, whom these two supposedly would challenge, hauled in four passes for 47 yards.
It’s not evident yet, but Minnesota Vikings rookies play a huge role this year. If they can provide quality play, this team will be even more dangerous. It’s still just the preseason, so we can’t look too much into scores, so watching position battles and various younger players will give us insight to this team’s plans.