The Vikings lost their first two preseason games but learned a lot about their rookies. They got a good look at all their first-year players and can evaluate how they play in real game action. But how did they do?
The talent of the first-rounder flashed on a few plays in both games. That’s all safeties can do at times. His speed is absurd for a player at his position. He played the full first half and recorded three tackles. In pass coverage, he allowed a catch to Tyler Kroft. However, the play of the offense was perfectly executed, and even coming close to the ball was an amazing feat of athleticism.
He started in zone coverage, and his speed allowed him to almost make a play on the ball. Kroft was wide-open, and it still took a perfect pass to complete the throw. Cine has a few things to clean up, but the sky is the limit. For example, he bites too often when the quarterback looks at a particular receiver and throws to a different one. In the NFL, QBs don’t stare down receivers like in college. His reactive nature is one of his strengths, but he has to control it and realize that the QB could be trying to fool him.
Andrew Booth Jr.
Booth lost the cornerback competition to Dantzler, and the fact that Dantzler was inactive proves that. However, Booth looks like he belongs. Some rookie cornerbacks struggle early in their careers, but he looks like an NFL cornerback. He allowed two short catches but didn’t do anything wrong. Quick passes are going to happen at times. He got hurt in the second quarter and re-aggravated an ankle injury that will force him to miss a few days, but it’s nothing serious. Booth overall played a good game until his injury and didn’t lose his aggressive playing style.
He looked like a man amongst boys. Ingram lost one rep against Javon Kinlaw, that unfortunately led to a sack. He has a few things to clean up, but his talent shows up in every play. The right guard is running away with the starting spot, and while he will lose a rep now and then, especially because of some rookie mistakes, his good plays are incredible. He simply stonewalls defenders on most plays and, outside of the sack, looked even better than in the first game. The lone Vikings touchdown scored by Ty Chandler was made possible by Ingram pushing his defensive lineman into the endzone. His continued development will be crucial for the Vikings in 2022.
The linebacker played the first half, and his boxscore didn’t look great with just one tackle. However, similar to Cine, his explosiveness flashes in many plays. In coverage, he gave up a catch on a miscommunication with Cine. Both reacted to the QB looking to a different receiver and attacked the wrong player while leaving another player wide open. He’ll have a lot of highlight plays for the Vikings in the future, as he’s a hard hitter, despite his small frame. Asamoah had a great tackle for loss after running through the hole of the offensive line and taking down the running back. His instincts and playing speed are those of a future starting linebacker.
Evans had a mixed game. On the one hand, he led the Vikings in tackles with 10. On the other hand, Evans gave up a lot of catches. Most of them were quick hitters and extremely hard to defend, but he played a little too far off. He has to trust his athleticism and come closer to the line of scrimmage on some plays. But just like Booth, he’s looking like an NFL cornerback and is already a better player than most people expected when the Vikings drafted him. He’ll be a contributor in 2022.
The fifth-rounder has a quiet preseason. He’s lined up as an inside defender and is, therefore, learning a new position, as he played on the edge in college. It might take him a while until he can make game-changing plays for the Vikings. He’s not consistent enough at the moment to be out in the field in the regular season. Otomewo finished the game with three tackles and already showed some improvements from the first preseason game.
The running back doesn’t get a lot of touches in the preseason, so he has already secured his roster spot. He shows elite speed and surprisingly runs with a lot of power. He’ll have a long career if he can keep that combination. Among the Vikings’ backup running backs, he is probably the best receiver, giving him some extra touches. Chandler scored the lone Vikings touchdown of the game.
Lowe still plays behind Oli Udoh in the rotation but outplayed him in both games. Granted, the edge rushers he’s going up against are possibly not as good as Udoh’s, but the difference between the two tackles is easy to spot. His technique and anchor are those of a future starting lineman. He could be the backup tackle for the next few years.
Nailor is getting his snaps after Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Olabisi Johnson, and Trishton Jackson and is not doing much in his plays. A player with his talent and speed should be able to flash a little more against third and fourth-string cornerbacks. He caught two passes for 11 yards. His roster spot is in jeopardy at this point, and a spot on the practice squad is more likely.
The tight end didn’t play a role in the first preseason game but played well in his opportunities against the 49ers. His 29 receiving yards led the Vikings, tied with Bisi Johnson. He did a good job in the running game as a blocker and showed promise as a receiver. It would be surprising at this point if he’ll get a roster spot, but he certainly deserves to be part of the practice squad after his strong performance.
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