Game Recap — Minnesota Vikings vs. Buffalo Bills

  • Who on the Vikings was most impressive during Thursday’s game? 

Tashawn Bower — Despite being an undrafted rookie, the former LSU product looked like he belonged out there. Playing primarily spot duty during his time in Baton Rouge, Bower’s talents were somewhat hidden due to the talent he was surrounded by on the depth chart. 

Recording his first career NFL sack, he showed tremendous bend coming off of the edge, but also impressive at setting the edge against the run. Bower continuously flashed and the progress of his development will be interesting as he continues to fight for a final 53-man roster spot.

Anthony Barr — It quietly went unnoticed, but Barr was very impressive. There weren’t any splash plays from him during his three tackle night, but to see him hitting gaps hard on blitzes and making clean tackles in space was a good sight to see.

Many speculated that Barr was suffering from some sort of a wrist injury due to the bulky brace that he wore weekly in 2016. He showed no signs of that affecting him against the Bills.

Dalvin Cook — Although the Vikings first-team offense got off to a rough start in their first game action together, one bright spot was their rookie second-round pick. You can tell that they made it an emphasis to get Cook the ball early and often.

He did not disappoint, as he finished the night with 13 yards on five carries, but an impressive 30 yards on four catches in just 18 total snaps. A small sample size, but Cook’s versatility and explosive potential were on display.

Eric Wilson — Arguably one of the biggest winners of the night was the former undrafted rookie from Cincinnati. The nations seventh-leading tackler in the country in his final collegiate season (2016), Wilson’s ranginess and sideline-to-sideline abilities were on full display. He was all over the field.

Directing his teammates in the right direction pre-snap, tipping passes in coverage, nearly coming up with an interception, and filling gaps in the running game, Wilson made the most of his extensive playing time in his NFL debut.

Stacy Coley — After having a sub-par showing at training camp, Coley didn’t do much to standout among the receiving corps vying for one of the final two projected spots on the receiver depth chart. After three catches resulting in 67 yards and a highlight 38-yard gain, Coley separated himself some from the pack.

The biggest battle that Coley is facing is his constant nagging injuries. It was one of the biggest knocks against him pre-draft and it is what pushed him down many draft boards, resulting in him falling to the seventh-round.

  • What were you most disappointed about?

First-Team Offense — This off-season the team put a big emphasis on improving the offensive side of the ball. With the excitement about all of the new parts in certain spots, it looked to be the same old story.

Ineffectiveness on third downs and no movement from the offensive line in the running game were the two biggest concerns. There’s still a long way to go until Sept. 11, but those two areas need to improve if the offense wants to improve upon their performance from a season ago.

Mike Remmers — The teams offensive front couldn’t get any worse than a season ago. One of the biggest off-season acquisitions was filling the void at right tackle with Remmers. Expected to at least give the team middle-of-the-road performances, he struggled in his first game back at right tackle.

Giving up a sack and struggling to re-create the line of scrimmage in the running game, which is what he was best known for. Chemistry and continuity up-front takes time and those rough patches before seeing that develop is exactly what we saw from the Vikings offensive line.

Taylor Heinicke — The third-year QB looked like a player who hadn’t played in over a year. The game seemed way too fast for him and he seemed behind on everything that he did, even throwing an interception that was easily avoidable. Locked in a battle for the backup QB spot, alongside Case Keenum, who Heinicke is clearly behind right now.

  • Other thoughts

— Trae Waynes left lastnight’s game during the first defensive series with a shoulder injury that head coach Mike Zimmer labeled as “just a sore shoulder”.

— Rodney Adams had an up-and-down night, but you can clearly see that most of his value will come in the return game.

— Case Keenum came in and engineered the offense well, finishing 11-of-16 for 121 yards. He’s taken a firm hold on the backup QB spot for now.

The second team offensive line, led by Pat Elflein, came in and did an impressive job. Consistently generating movement at the line of scrimmage in the running game and protecting Keenum/Heinicke, consistently giving them a clean pocket to throw from.

 

For NFL news and draft analysis, follow J.R. on Twitter @JReidDraftScout.

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