Minnesota Vikings: Observations from second preseason game vs. Buccaneers


Last night, the Minnesota Vikings played host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first home action for the Vikings in 2015. As you’re probably aware of by now, the Vikings were able to defeat the Buccaneers by a score of 26-16. Mike Zimmer is now 6-0 in his head coaching career in the preseason, which is completely irrelevant but still an interesting stat.

Anyway, last night was the second opportunity for some notable Vikings bubble players as well as rookies and other young talent to show their worth to Zimmer and Co. There are a few players that stood out to me in particular, some in a good way and some in a bad way.

DISCLAIMER: I wasn’t on site for the game like I was for my last article on observations from training camp on August 11th. This is purely from watching the game’s live broadcast on TV and some NFL Game Pass review.


— First of all, the most impactful thing that happened for the Vikings last night came on the second play from scrimmage for the Vikings offense. Big right tackle Phil Loadholt suffered a devastating injury as he went down with a torn Achilles. It’s such a terrible break for Loadholt, especially after working all offseason to get healthy and ready to go again. I’m wishing nothing but a speedy recovery for him.

— The silver lining to Loadholt’s awful injury is that rookie T.J. Clemmings was given the opportunity to shine as he stepped in at right tackle for Loadholt. Unless I’m missing something, Clemmings was very reliable when he was on the field. There will definitely be some growing pains along the way, but Clemmings has shown much more positives than negatives so far.

— Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers passing attack went after Trae Waynes aggressively early on. Vincent Jackson beat Waynes on a deep post route for a gain of 40 yards, although it did appear as if Robert Blanton should’ve been there to help. Two plays later, Waynes was abused on a comeback route by Louis Murphy that gained 17 yards. However, he did respond another two plays later as be broke up a pass intended for Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. Again, and I’ve said it before, we need to be patient with Waynes. He’ll become more consistent as he gains more experience.

— Everson Griffen what may have unleashed the best spin move that’s ever been seen for his sack of Winston.

— Antone Exum has made a couple of big plays this preseason in his pursuit of the starting safety position opposite Harrison Smith. That battle has become much closer after Exum read Winston’s eyes beautifully and picked off a pass intended for Mike Evans.

— As for Robert Blanton, the man battling Exum for that starting job, he appeared to be a step too late on a few plays over the middle. Fortunately, Winston wasn’t incredibly accurate most of the time yesterday so he wasn’t really hurt by it. To me, it seems as if the battle for the starting safety spot next to Harrison Smith is getting very interesting.

— Cordarrelle Patterson may have hurt himself more than he helped himself last night. TVA co-editor Dan Zinski wrote this morning about Patterson and how Zimmer seemed to acknowledge his boneheaded penalty instead of his touchdown catch. I’m not saying anything against Patterson’s touchdown catch, because he ran an excellent route and did everything he needed to there. But his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty later in the game is something Mike Zimmer will absolutely not tolerate.

Aug 15, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) looks on during the third quarter in a preseason NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings won 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

— Eric Kendricks, man. That guy was everywhere last night. It seemed like he was at or around the ball at the conclusion of every play he was on the field, which is exactly what you want out of a Mike linebacker.

— Gerald Hodges is another guy that jumps out when watching this defense. Always has great play recognition and pursuit of the ball. If you ask me, Hodges should be starting over Chad Greenway this season.

— Despite reports of Danielle Hunter really impressing in camp, through two preseason games he’s been pretty much a non-factor. I was a huge fan of drafting him, figuring Zimmer could find ways to use his athleticism. Still, though, you have to know what to do with the athleticism, and Hunter hasn’t shown much of that in games yet.

— I didn’t pay much attention to Matt Kalil last night, but I didn’t hear much about him or see many tweets about him, which are both signs that he was pretty solid. Maybe Kalil has been so bad at camp because Griffen is just THAT good. Maybe.

— Jeff Locke was actually decent tonight. 4 of his 5 punts pinned the Buccaneers inside the 20, which is nothing to sneeze at whatsoever. Hopefully, Locke can perform like this consistently.

— Last but definitely not least, it seems as if Teddy Bridgewater’s stellar play has almost flown under the radar this preseason. I know it has for me, mainly because I’ve been focused on the play of a few other guys. Bridgewater’s 105+ passer rating thus far is a great sign for this offense and for his growth as a quarterback.

Those were some of the observations I made while watching the game last night. Let me know if there’s anything else you saw or share your thoughts on my observations in the comments below. After two preseason games, these Minnesota Vikings appear poised to be a dangerous team this season. Of course, it’s preseason, so I might be just saying that.

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