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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Which Vikings players stood out against the 49ers?

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings were at US Bank Stadium for the first time this year on Sunday as they faced off with the San Francisco 49ers in preseason Game No. 3. Here’s the 10 players who stood out most:

Nick Easton

The biggest battle of training camp has been for the center position and it appears we have a winner in Nick Easton. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he hoped to have the starting offensive line shored up by Week 3 of the preseason and Sunday night’s group was led by Easton. Rookie Pat Elflein came into the game in the second quarter and Easton moved over to left guard to replace Alex Boone.

Easton has starting experience from last season, which may have helped him grasp some of the line calls quicker than Elflein. As a long term plan, we are likely to see both of them on the interior.

Unfortunately for Easton, he struggled along with the rest of the O-line against San Francisco.

Laquon Treadwell

The Vikings’ 2016 first-round pick has spent much of preseason on the shelf, but put together a solid performance in his preseason debut, grabbing three catches for 36 yards. Treadwell ran exclusively with the first team, as he has when healthy during practice. When the Vikings open up against the New Orleans Saints , it appears he will be the No. 3 receiver behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. If Treadwell comes up short, he can never say it was because he wasn’t given a chance.

Ben Gedeon

For the second straight game, the Vikings started their fourth-round pick in the base package defense. It appears Gedeon has slowly taken over the spot from Emmanuel Lamur and Edmond Robinson. He didn’t see a ton of action against the 49ers, making just one tackle, but his playing time clearly indicates that he’s in line to have a role on defense. Gedeon is a strong run stuffer and powerful player. Whether he can improve his pass coverage will determine how often he’s used/ whether he keeps the part-time role in the regular season.

Jerick McKinnon

McKinnon was on the field for all of the 49ers’ kickoffs, and on the fifth he ran one back for a touchdown. That should more or less lock him into the job. McKinnon was also used on one play at the same time as Dalvin Cook. It wouldn’t be surprising to see offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur routinely use two running backs on the field at once.

Bucky Hodges/Kyle Carter

Last week, the sixth-round pick tight end was in the game at the very end, which usually isn’t a great sign. Against San Francisco, he saw first-half action, making a catch on the final drive of the half. He continue to play into the second half and largely lined up in a wide receiver-type role. Kyle Carter, who has also been battling for a spot, came in the game after Hodges, which has not been the case in previous preseason games. Carter subsequently caught a touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.

Jaleel Johnson

In the fight for a spot on the interior of the defensive line, Johnson appears to have solidified the lead over Datone Jones. To open the second half, Johnson was in the game over Jones, who came in later in the third quarter. The rookie from Iowa was more quiet on Sunday than against the Seahawks – though he had a big hit on the 49ers’ QB in the fourth quarter – but his overall body of work and comfort playing the three-technique spot has set him apart.

Marshall Koehn

As the kicking battle rages on, Koehn finally got an opportunity to show off his big leg in a game and nailed a 58-yard field goal in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the rookie, he missed wise left on a 47-yard try. Throughout camp, Koehn and Kai Forbath have been neck-and-neck. Would his long bomb help his cause or would the missed 47-yard try hurt him enough to give Forbath the edge?

Case Keenum

If there was ever a question who the Vikings’ backup quarterback was going to be, Keenum put that to bed against the 49ers. He led a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive late in the third quarter and then picked up three big passing plays on another TD drive in the fourth.

Taylor Heinicke came in late in the game and led a game-winning drive, capped by a rushing two-point conversion score.

Stacy Coley/Rodney Adams

The Vikings’ two rookie wide receivers played late into the fourth quarter and performed well. Coley had a 36-yard catch on a touchdown drive and Adams picked up a 20-yard catch and had a strong punt return. Coley also made a grab to set up the Vikings’ last-second touchdown. Both players have set themselves up to make the team.

The starting offensive line

If the Vikings’ starters against the 49ers are indeed going to start against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, they’re going to have to put on a much better performance. Quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked three times in the first quarter and the Vikings averaged 2.8 yards per carry in the first half. After a strong game against Seattle, the line took a step back.

The post Which Vikings players stood out against the 49ers? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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