The Minnesota Vikings lost their preseason opener to the Las Vegas Raiders 26-20 in a contest showcasing Kellen Mond as the frontrunner for QB2, a Ty Chandler preseason breakout, and a solid performance from Ed Ingram, among other items.
The preseason continues on Saturday as the Vikings host the San Francisco 49ers in an exhibition bout at U.S. Bank Stadium. These are four things to monitor inside that showdown.
1. Kellen Mond Cannot Have a Dud
Kellen Mond delivered two touchdown passes against the Raiders last weekend — a saving grace of sorts from the continuation of The Sean Mannion Experience.
However, Mond’s theatrics were merely “one game,” and a preseason one at that. If Mond struggles in preseason game #2, it could send the Vikings back to the free-agent wire for another glance at QB2 options. Brett Hundley, who the team seems to like, was released by the Baltimore Ravens on August 16th.
While Mond doesn’t have to emulate a QB1 on Saturday, he must avoid a dud. And if he steers clears of futility, he should be in the purple driver’s seat for QB2.
2. Lewis Cine Emerging as Defensive Playmaker
Cine hasn’t dominated rookie headlines at training camp or in the preseason, so it’s time for him to change that.
In Las Vegas, Brian Asamoah stole some of Cine’s rookie thunder. Cine can return the favor at home against San Francisco. Based on his draft stock — the 32nd overall pick — Cine is expected to shine. With Asamoah, it’s almost a “perk,” as 3rd-Rounders’ development can “go either way.”
All things considered, Cine has authored a quiet introduction to Minnesota. He’s due for one of his patented big [legal] hits on running back, wide receiver, or tight end.
To his credit, Cine did fly all over the field versus the Raiders. The Vikings need more of that.
3. Does Ed Ingram Appear to Be the Starting RG?
Rumblings from the first preseason game — and subsequent week after — seem to point at Ed Ingram as the Vikings starting right guard. Like Mond, Ingram produced a tremendous outing and now must follow with a sequel.
Ingram’s task is outlasting Jesse Davis for RG1. Do the Vikings treat him like “the starter” from now until September? Or is he still existing in prove-it terrtiory?
Monitor the vibe against the 49ers — to determine if Ingram is indeed the starting RG.
4. Is C.J. Ham Actually Involved?
The Vikings have said complimentary things about C.J. Ham all offseason, leading onlookers to believe he’s a shoo-in for the 53-man roster.
But is he?
Kevin O’Connell’s 2021 Rams didn’t use fullbacks. Plus, the Vikings employ Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, and Ty Chandler at running back. Would the “pass-first” franchise really keep five RBs and FBs on the active roster? It would be overkill, to a degree.
Ergo, the 53-man roster could end in a referendum of “Mattison or Ham?” And, yes, the odd man out could hit free agency.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).