June 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell talks with wide receivers Adam Thielen (left) and Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.
The Vikings played three preseason games. All three games resulted in losses, with the Raiders, 49ers and Broncos getting the better of the Vikings. But the results are not as important as the observations that the team can make and the health of the players.
Players had time to get in shape for the game, take a few hits in live action, and get used to playing against different opponents instead of just practicing against players wearing their own jerseys.
Ten Vikings, however, did not play in preseason:
- QB Kirk Cousins
- Cook R. B. Dalvin
- W.R. Justin Jefferson
- WR Adam Thielen
- TE Irv Smith Jr.
- OLB Danielle Hunter
- OLB Za’Darius Smith
- MLBEric Kendricks
- C.B.Patrick Peterson
- harrison smith
In addition to those ten, Blake Proehl and Ryan Connelly did not play but are not currently on the active roster. They are on the reserve PUP list and are recovering from torn ACLs.
Nick Mullens did not play for the Vikings but appeared in three games for the Raiders. He threw 29 passes, including a touchdown against the Vikings.
The ten inactive players of the three games are the main attractions of the Vikings. The organization needs them to stay healthy during the regular season. Therefore, they did not risk a meaningless game. Injuries can happen during practice, but are more likely to happen in games.
The Vikings played both offensive and defensive lines in the preseason opener. Defensive tackles Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson looked great. The first-team offensive line struggled against the blitz-laden Raiders defense.
Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Irv Smith form the foundation of the Vikings’ offense. The unit is trying to be more explosive and consistent compared to the last few years. Consistency is the biggest point of criticism from most Vikings fans, as the offense completely disappeared for large stretches of games, leading to some defensive lapses.
The roof of the unit is very high. Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson are a deadly duo in the passing game. They could even get a boost from the newly implemented scheme. The same scheme helped Cooper Kupp win the triple crown with the Rams. O’Connell was his offensive coordinator.
The offense will still have one of the best running backs in the NFL. Dalvin Cook has been near the top of the league in every category in recent years. While the Vikings could pass more often, they will continue to rely on Cook to keep the defense on their toes. An effective running game subsequently leads to good opportunities for game action. He will also get touches in the passing game.
Thielen was another player who did not see action in preseason. He was one of the best receivers in the league for a while, but his production in terms of yards has dwindled in recent years. Meanwhile, his touchdown numbers increased. Health was a big problem. He has missed 11 games in the last three seasons. Having a healthy Thielen is a big priority for the Vikings.
The same can be said for Irv Smith. The tight end missed the entire 2021 season and is already injured again. He had to have thumb surgery and therefore missed the preseason. The starting tight end is expected to be ready for Week 1 and could have a big year.
Edge runners will be important for the Vikings after two seasons without a solid game. Danielle Hunter has missed all but seven games the past two seasons. In both years, the defense collapsed without him. In 2022, the Vikings added another star running back when they signed Za’Darius Smith. He dealt with a back injury in 2021 and missed most of the season. If the two can stay healthy, much is possible for the defense.
The other three, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith and Patrick Peterson, are at least 30 years old. They have shown that they are capable of playing at a high level. Peterson and Smith have the pivotal job of mentoring newcomers Andrew Booth and Lewis Cine. The defense is also entering a scheme change. Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, a former student of Vic Fangio, is implementing a new 3-4 defensive scheme.
The next time Vikings fans will see the team’s stars suit up is Sept. 11, when the Packers come to town for the first division matchup of the 2022 season. There could be some bumps early on because of the many changes. , but veterans should get used to playing fast.
Janik Eckardt is a football fanatic who likes numbers and statistics. The Vikings became his favorite team despite his quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking encyclopedia of football, he loves to watch comedies and classic rock is his favorite music genre. Follow him on Twitter if you like Vikings: @JanikEckardt