The battle for the 3-tech spot
Usually, any guy that gets in a fight with a man named Hercules is probably going to go down without a fight. However, 2018 third-round pick Jalyn Holmes and 2018 undrafted free agent Hercules Mata’afa both had strong performances against the Saints last week and they will both look to take another step toward a roster spot on Sunday.
Coming off an ACL tear that wiped out his entire 2018 season, Mata’afa stood out with a strong game in round one of this camp battle. After having a full year to bulk up to 280 pounds, Mata’afa looked just as explosive as he did at Washington State, reacting quickly on plays and racking up three tackles and a sack.
Despite drawing a roughing the passer penalty in the second quarter that led to a Saints field goal, it was a step in the right direction.
The same could be said for Holmes, who didn’t do anything to lose the job against New Orleans. The Ohio State product picked up a pair of tackles and a sack and he also had the same explosiveness that his counterpart had throughout the game.
Even though there were times where Holmes struggled in run coverage, he did just enough to not get blown away by the performance of Mata’afa.
Jaleel Johnson seems like he should make the team this season, so it’s possible that Holmes and Mata’afa could be competing for one spot. Such a scenario makes Sunday’s game important for the young men in the middle of the Vikings’ defensive line.