What We Saw: Preseason Week 3

The What We Saw team recaps everything you missed from the final week of the preseason

Vikings @ Broncos

Final Score: Broncos 23, Vikings 13

Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

 

This was an abysmal game of football tent-poled by backup quarterbacks with limited skillsets and a lot of third and fourth-string players fighting desperately to show off that they can be contributors at the NFL level. Few will make it, and that isn’t a surprise when you consider the level of quality on show in this one.

The only action of note was the return of promising field-stretcher K.J. Hamler for the Broncos, who was playing his first game since Sept 2020 after a horrendous knee injury. A couple of rookie playmakers, Ty Chandler for the Vikings, and Montrell Washington for the Broncos, both made a case for roster spots with explosive plays.

Apart from that, you know it’s the third week of preseason why the only true moment of excellence was from a punter. Check this boot from Vikings rookie Ryan Wright. Nice work, son.

 

 

Minnesota Vikings

| Preseason Week 1 | Preseason Week 2 |

 

Quarterback

 

Sean Mannion: 9/16, 121 yards, 1 sack | 1 carry, 7 yards

Kellen Mond: 10/17, 102 yards, 4 sacks | 1 carry, -1 yard

 

If I never see Sean Mannion throw a pass in the NFL again, I’ll be ok with that. Mannion has backed up for a number of teams in the league and it hasn’t been pretty. This outing was no different, with the cumbersome quarterback slow to reads and his accuracy dreadful even on short passes. Mannion holds onto the ball too long and struggles to sense pressure. This play perfectly sums up why he shouldn’t be considered for a roster spot.

 

 

Ostracized under Mike Zimmer, former third-round selection Kellen Mond has finally been given ample time to show what he can do in this preseason by new Head Coach Kevin O’Connell. However, it hasn’t been any near impressive enough to warrant hype. Mond has really struggled in the pocket, abandoning ship at the first sense of pressure and rolling out to try and make plays on the run. That is actually one of Mond’s strengths but it’s a secondary asset for a starting QB in the NFL.

Mond had two opportunities to orchestrate game-winning drives in the fourth quarter, and twice he failed. Mond, like Mannion, has a propensity to hold onto the ball and that proved to be fatal in both drives. A terrible fourth-down sack with the ball at the 5-yard line nailed the lid shut on Mond’s time in Minnesota most likely.

 

 

Mannion and Mond were sacked five times, and with cuts looming it is clear the Vikings will roll with recently acquired Nick Mullens as the backup quarterback for the coming season.

 

Running Back

 

Ty Chandler: 5 carries, 44 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 1 yard

Bryant Koback: 14 carries, 41 yards, TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards

Kene Nwangwu: 4 carries, 14 yards, Fumble

 

The bright spark in the Vikings offense was provided on the ground, with fifth-round selection out of UNC Ty Chandler showing quick feet and clever lane-running in his five carries. Chandler set up the Vikings’ only touchdown of the night with a strong run between the tackles in the second quarter that showed off his speed at the next level.

 

Chandler provides another option in O’Connell’s multi-various offense and should make the roster alongside Kene Nwangwu, who despite fumbling on his first carry of the night, lit up the Vikings’ special teams threat last season with a couple of sensational touchdown kick returns. The one likely to miss out is undrafted rookie Bryant Koback, who hit paydirt with a tough run to score the Vikings’ only touchdown of the night. He will likely revert to the practice squad.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Ihmir Smith-Marsette: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 63 yards

Zach Davidson: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 47 yards

Trishton Jackson: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 28 yards

Myron Mitchell: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 18 yards

Bisi Johnson: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards

Jalen Nailor: 6 targets, 1 reception, 16 yards

Nick Muse: 4 targets, 1 reception, 11 yards

 

In what is probably the most predictable receiving room to project in any team across the NFL, the Vikings are loaded with elite starters and promising youngsters at the wideout position. The coaching staff knows this, and their only job is to work out who might nab a depth spot. Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, and Irv Smith Jr. are all locked in to be major players. Tight end Ben Ellefson will also make the team as a blocker. Smith-Marsette showed just why he has been a steal as a seventh-round flyer.

 

 

2020 undrafted rookie Trishton Jackson impressed O’Connell when he was with the Rams and he has seen plenty of opportunities in the preseason. He did himself no harm with another couple of excellent grabs, and only a bad drop in the red zone blotched what was another accomplished showing.

 

 

Jalen Nailor flashed his nice route-running ability and will be given time to grow in this roster. Some sad news for promising wideout Bisi Johnson, who tore his ACL for the second year in a row, and is now out for the season. Brutal news for Johnson, who had just returned from ACL surgery in his other knee. The Vikings might look to trade for another experience wideout based on this, or look to the cuts to add another receiver.

 

Denver Broncos

| Preseason Week 1 | Preseason Week 2 |

 

Quarterback

 

Brett Rypien: 14/21, 137 yards, INT | 1 carry, 7 yards

Josh Johnson: 11/14, 107 yards | 1 carry, 4 yards

 

Brett Rypien‘s time in Denver is likely to be at an end after a mundane showing against a third-string defense that also included the cardinal sin, a turnover in the red zone. Rypien threw late and behind receiver K.J. Hamler trying to force a ball in the endzone, the ball tipped in the air and claimed by the defense. It was the all-too-familiar story for Rypien, who has really struggled to step up in his three years with the Broncos.

 

 

Veteran journeyman Josh Johnson stepped in during the second half and was meticulous in moving the ball and showing experience with his team leading in the contest. Johnson is the favorite to back up Russell Wilson for the 2022 season.

 

Running Back

 

Devine Ozigbo: 13 carries, 59 yards | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 24 yards

Mike Boone: 5 carries, 44 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards

JaQuan Hardy: 4 carries, 23 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 17 yards

Montrell Washington: 1 carry, 11 yards, TD | 1 target

 

Mike Boone was the standout player on the field for the first half, showing exactly why improvement and consistency is a valued commodity in the NFL. Boone was let go by the Vikings a couple of years ago and since then has found a home in Denver. Boone was lightening fast in this one, evading backups at will and showing hard, intelligent running. He established himself as the team’s clear No.3 back behind Javonte Williams and veteran Melvin Gordon. Draft profile guru Matt Waldman appreciated the quality too.

 

 

The final spot in the running back room is likely to go to versatile fifth-round rookie Montrell Washington out of Samford. Washington was listed as a receiver in the draft but can lineup across formations and is also an electric kick-returner. He took his first touch out of the backfield to the house for the score. An impressive showing for the exciting youngster.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Seth Williams: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 68 yards

Jalen Virgil: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 58 yards

Eric Tomlinson: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 24 yards

Erik Saubert: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 20 yards

K.J. Hamler: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 18 yards

Darrius Shepherd: 2 targets, 1 reception, 8 yards

Andrew Beck: 1 target

Kendall Hinton: 1 target

Dylan Parnham: 1 target

 

The all important news here was K.J. Hamler coming through his first action of the season unscathed as he is ramped up to play apart once again in 2022. The Broncos were decimated by injuries last year at the position, so Hamlers return is key if Wilson is to realise his potential and go deep into the postseason. Hamler showed just why he is an NFL-level playmaker with a couple of catches highlighting his ability to lose coverage and find space.

 

 

New Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett is looking for a couple of diamonds in the rough to round out the Denver receiving room after Tim Patrick went down with a season-ending injury. One of those who has impressed in camp and taken his skills into the games is former Auburn receiver Seth Williams. Williams has bounced around the practice squad and was waived at one stage last year, however he has taken an increased focus to his game throughout the preseason. Laying out for this catch could be enough to make the team. What a grab!

 

 

The other candidate is this years undrafted rookie playmaker Jalen Virgil. Virgil made a poor error at the start of the game, fumbling the opening kick off out of the front of the end zone and out of touch at the 3-yard line. But, he went onto to haul in four catches and made a great play late in the game – a big 34 yard catch-and-run on third down to keep the chains moving, staying in bounds to keep the clock running out.

 

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