VikesRaidersUFRPreseason

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond (11) carries the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders in the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings kicked off their preseason slate on Sunday in Las Vegas. Many high-profile players didn’t suit up, including quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson, which opened the door for many reserves to step into the spotlight.

Kevin O’Connell’s offense sputtered early on in his head coaching debut but found a groove once quarterback Kellen Mond entered the game in place of starter Sean Mannion. It’s no secret that the backup quarterback spot is up for grabs and in the exhibition opener, it was Mond who stole the show.

The second-year quarterback out of Texas A&M went 9-of-14 passing for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Mond had a couple of dimes that he dropped right into the lap of streaking pass catchers that had to open some eyes.

Minnesota lost to the Raiders, 26-20, but that was hardly the takeaway. 

O’Connell and the staff got a good look at plenty of the younger players on the roster who are grinding for roles and roster spots as the regular season inches closer.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

It’s already been teased and it’d be foolish to go anywhere else outside of Mond for this one. While it is just one preseason game it was a big one for Mond who may have separated from Mannion, at least for now, in the race for the No. 2 quarterback spot on the roster. Mond’s first touchdown came on a second-and-goal from the 2-yard line and he fired a dart right into the lap of Albert Wilson. On the second touchdown pass, Mond threw a beautiful ball on a touch throw to Wilson who ran right underneath it and found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Now comes the most important part for Mond and that is, can he build off this performance and put forth another consistent outing next week when the Vikings take on the San Francisco 49ers?

DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME

The running back room is stacked and rookie Ty Chandler out of North Carolina did a tremendous job of throwing his hat into the ring. Dalvin Cook is the alpha of the group and Alexander Mattison would start for plenty of teams in the NFL, but Chandler showed the type of versatility that could earn him some sort of role moving forward. Chandler had five carries for 50 yards including three runs of at least 12 yards. On top of that, the rookie fifth-round pick had one kick return to put on tape and he flipped it into a 56-yard return. It’ll be tricky to carve out any consistent role with Cook and Mattison spearheading the ground game and Kene Nwangwu in the mix as well, but Chandler did a sensational job in his preseason debut of putting his stamp on the game.

THAT MOMENT

It’d be easy to cherry pick one of the Mond touchdowns but how about the sack in the first quarter by Harrison Phillips!? Dalvin Tomlinson got the push on his man at the line of scrimmage and it forced Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham to step up in the pocket. It looked as though Stidham was getting ready to tuck it and run before Phillips closed in quickly and wrapped up the QB for the sack. Phillips was one of the few veteran projected starters who did play for the Vikings and the duo of he and Tomlinson must have Minnesota giddy. Factor in the edge rushing duo of Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter and it’s an intimidating defensive front for the Vikings. Phillips’ sack was a little glimpse at what Vikings fans might be seeing plenty of this year and beyond.

THIS NUMBER

8 - As in penalties. There were a flurry of them early and two on one play against rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. as the flags piled up early for the Vikings. Minnesota ended up getting tagged for eight penalties that went for 71 yards and seven came in the first half. One washed away what would’ve been a sack by D.J. Wonnum. It’s early, it’s preseason, it wasn’t the normal starters – word vomit any of the copout lines you want, the fact remains that the Vikings have plenty of cleaning up to do in the penalty department. The NFL is having officials emphasize illegal contact penalties this year after there was an average of 97 called from 2002-20 but just 36 total last year. Minnesota was tagged for one really costly Sunday.

THEY SAID IT

“I don’t take it for granted that I get to lead this operation. It takes away some of the nerves going into it because you know you’ve got great people and great players around you.” -- Kevin O’Connell on his head coaching debut. 

“There are some critical plays in there that both of them made … We’ll look and see at what the tape ultimately says.” -- O’Connell on the quarterback play of Mannion and Mond.

“I thought across the board Ty (Chandler) was pretty decisive in the run game, putting his foot down, getting north and south … Obviously that kick return really got us going on that drive.” -- O’Connell on Chandler. 

“We’re really just trying to learn from him and seeing what things that he wants and then us going out and executing.” -- Jefferson on Cousins’ familiarity with O’Connell’s offense.

“Being able to move around … It’s gonna be fun because the defensive coordinator (Ed Donatell) is gonna put us in situations to show our talent.” -- Za’Darius Smith on playing in a 3-4 defense. 

WHAT’S NEXT

The Vikings will open up the doors to U.S Bank Stadium next Saturday and welcome in the 49ers for their second preseason affair. San Francisco took out the Packers 28-21 Friday night. It’s unknown at this point if more of the regular starters, including Cousins, who missed the opener due to COVID-19, will play in this one. These two teams played last year in Santa Clara and it was the 49ers who emerged on top with a 34-26 victory. San Francisco has a different look this year at quarterback with Trey Lance in and Jimmy Garoppolo out. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday night.

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