The Minnesota Vikings were victorious against the Oakland Raiders in their first preseason contest on Friday night. While it is always nice to get a victory, there were some things that the team needs to improve upon and some other things that were executed very well.
I will break the game down into three separate sections to discuss them. The second installment is the defensive side of the ball. Here are some notable impressions on the defensive game played by the Vikings:
The best impression that I was left with from the defensive line was 7th round draft pick Shamar Stephen. He found himself involved in 5 tackles and gave hope that he can develop into a solid player for this team. The other player that I really enjoyed was Corey Wootton, who was a part of 3 tackles which included one sack. Wootton seems to really like playing at TCF Bank Stadium.
Although he didn’t end up with a good stat line, I was encouraged by the play of rookie defensive end Scott Crichton. Despite only ending the game with two assisted tackles, he showed that he has a motor and can be in the right place at the right time, but just needs to finish the play off.
Obviously, the first linebacker that got my interest was Anthony Barr. While not rushing the passer a ton, he got his hands on the opposing quarterback on a blitz where he looked lightning fast. He dropped back into coverage more than he blitzed and wasn’t a liability while doing so. For a player that is so raw and even fairly new to playing the linebacker position, Anthony Barr looks like a blue chipper in the making.
Two other guys that impressed me at linebacker were Audie Cole and Gerald Hodges. Both had a great tendency for sniffing out the ball and each were involved in 4 tackles during the game. Since linebacker is a position where depth is a major concern for the Vikings, it’s great to see these guys stepping up and being willing to take on a bigger role with the team.
Safety Kurt Coleman made a great impression in his first game with the Vikings. Not only did he haul in the only interception for the team, but he also added two tackles and one assist. Although the interception wasn’t the result of excellent coverage and more being in the right place at the right time, turnovers are too valuable to criticize how they happen.
Other players that were impressive were Derek Cox (three tackles and one pass defense) and Shaun Prater (2 assisted tackles and 1 pass defense). Also, Julian Posey showed flashes at times but was also out of position on several plays.
The first team defense did a great job against the Raiders and the second team played well also. As a unit, they only let the Raiders convert 4 3rd downs and controlled the clock by only giving the raiders a time of possession of 25:54. At times, it appeared as though the Vikings defense would keep Oakland out of the end zone for the entire game. A good effort all around on the defensive side of the ball.