After losing the first preseason game in Las Vegas against the Raiders, the Vikings also lost the second game when the San Francisco 49ers came to town. But more important than the results is the opportunity to evaluate players’ performances.
Despite the loss, some players were winners, especially in the race for starting jobs and roster spots. On Tuesday, the Vikings have to trim their roster to just 80 plays, so they have to cut five more players after already cutting five last week. In no particular order, these players were the biggest winners.
The veteran defensive tackle was unblockable in both games. After two dominant performances, it’s impossible to deny his impact on the two games. McGill has shown enough to win a roster spot. Throughout the two games, the defensive tackle reregistered 3.5 sacks. Against the 49ers, McGill had five total tackles and 1.5 sacks.
It looked like he got shot out of a canon after the snap on his first sack. He timed it perfectly. The other sack was a Patrick Jones stunt, and the two met at the quarterback. At the beginning of the second half, McGill had another great play when he again timed the snap perfectly, leading to a botched snap and a fumble. Edge rusher Luiji Vilain recovered the fumble.
He also combined with Asamoah on a tackle for loss run stop for a loss of one yard. He certainly made the case that he deserves to get a roster spot. After the game, head coach Kevin O’Connell said: “T.Y.’s a problem” about the journeyman defensive player.
The third-year safety had a bad game against the Raiders last week. He missed tackles in special teams and on defense and was out of position a lot. However, in the second preseason game, he totally redeemed himself.
At the end of the first quarter, the defensive back had a great pass breakup on a crucial third down. Metellus punched the ball out of the hands of Jauan Jennings on a catch that would’ve resulted in a first down. After last week’s performance, it looked like his roster spot could surprisingly be in jeopardy, but after the recent game, he’s back on the roster as fourth safety behind Smith, Cine, and Bynum.
The center shined in the two preseason games, but the game against the 49ers stood out. Schlottmann was great in run blocking and flawless in pass protection. The veteran center has a shot at unseating Chris Reed to become the backup center and main competition for the struggling Garrett Bradbury.
The rookie cornerback had a great day, leading all Vikings with ten tackles. On the first defensive drive, Evans had a big hit on second down and made the big stop two plays later on fourth down to turn the ball over on downs. Usually, it’s not a great sign if a defensive back has a lot of tackles. Most of the time, it shows bad coverage, which is the essential part of the play of any cornerback, but the rookie had mostly good coverage. He’s slowly improving.
Evans allowed a few catches but always immediately made the tackle after a short gain. The run defense was one of his weaknesses coming out of college, but he did a marvelous job against the run. Evans also contributed on special teams, as he played as a gunner on the punt team.
The Vikings head coach talked about his rookie: “He’s such a talented player for us to continue to just wrap our arms around and try to develop on a daily basis,” said O’Connell. “We want to get him a lot of reps. There’s a reason he was out there. I’m sure there will be a lot for him to correct fundamentally or with his eyes, or just situationally understanding how we can tighten up in some spots, but I thought he was a willing tackler.”
Another rookie made the list. Tight end Muse played just one snap in the first preseason game. In the second one, however, Muse recorded three catches for 29 yards, which is the most of any Vikings player, tied with Olabisi Johnson.
It would be highly surprising if he could snatch a roster spot, but the performance could be the first step on that path. Especially because Zach Davidson, a competitor for the third tight end spot had a disastrous game.
The rookie punter had a solid game, averaging 47.5 yards per punt on four tries, including a 59-yarder. Another one landed at the seven-yard line. The battle for the punting job never felt like a real battle, but that changed now, as the rookie outperformed the veteran, Jordan Berry.
His appearance on the list is for reasons similar to Josh Metellus. His first game was so bad that a solid second one immediately lands him on the winner’s list. His coverage was good, he made an impact in the running game, and was a sure tackler. None of those three things was true in the game against the Raiders. He finished the game with three tackles.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt