Minnesota Vikings: What We Learned from the 17-6 Loss to the San Francisco 49ers
Mind you, it's debatable, if that means anything at all.
What does mean something is what we saw Friday night and how the key parts of this Vikings team played.
So here's what we can learn from the Minnesota Vikings' first preseason game of 2012:
While he didn't get a touchdown, Ponder looked like a quarterback beginning to come into his own. He seemed more calm in the pocket.
It's early, sure, and not with a ton of reps, but, by and large, Ponder looked good.
Kalil is the Real Deal
Part of Ponder's ease in the pocket is the presence of Matt Kalil at left tackle.
Even missing some pieces this Niners defense is no joke, but Ponder wasn't sacked once.
Kalil had a few "rookie" beats but, for the most part, looks the part of a franchise left tackle.
It's a very good start.
Defense is Solid
There are still some kinks to work out, but they looked good, save for a ridiculous Colin Kaepernick run for a 78-yard touchdown, and made few huge errors.
I still want to see more from the secondary, but overall a good effort.
I was especially happy to see rookie Audie Cole get a sack. He hasn't done well in camp, but he showed some of the skill I've been waiting to see since he was drafted. He needs to build on it, but the foundation is there.
Wide Receivers Need to Step Up
Losing rookie Greg Childs was a blow, and not having Jerome Simpson to start the season is rough. The remaining players need to step up. While Jarius Wright had a lot of snaps, he didn't catch a ball. And while Stephen Burton made a nice 52-yard catch, he didn't really do anything else of note.
Tight ends Kyle Rudolph and rookie Rhett Ellison had a pair of catches each, and generally looked good.
The offense needs more, though.
Neither Joe Webb nor McLeod Bethel-Thompson looked good—I'd go so far as to say they both looked bad.
There is no other good option behind Ponder. Maybe Webb will bounce back and maybe Bethel-Thompson will develop into a good backup, but on Friday, they didn't instill much confidence.
Clearly, the Vikings have some things to work on, but for the first game of the preseason, the team looks firmly moving down the right track. I liked what I saw and am anxious to see more this coming week.
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