Ahhh... Football is back. Or some form of it, rather.
Although the Hall of Fame game annually showcases players on the cusp of making club rosters, most fans are happy just to see some type of organized football that is not Arena League or Canadian.
PETERSON ROCKED UP
Although he didn't play, Adrian Peterson was dressed for the first time since being suspended. It doesn't look like his time away from football will be detrimental to him having a big season, though. Peterson looks more rocked up than ever - expect a ton of performance from him and his fresh legs this year. This offense can be scary good with Peterson, Bridgewater, and a healthy Kyle Rudolph.
Speaking of Bridgewater, Teddy doesn't look like he will have much of a sophomore slump. Although he only played one drive, Bridgewater was smart with the football and made the calculated decisions that led to him having a successful rookie season, even pulling down and running for a few yards on one play. With Adrian Peterson in the fold this year to take some of the pressure off, the only thing that can hold Teddy back this year is his receiving core. Bridgewater finished the game going 5/6 for 44 yards.
Matt Kalil looked better. After picking up some steam towards the end of last season, the Vikings offense will be counting on Kalil to get back to his rookie form. If this game was any indication, he is definitely on his way to doing so.
VIKINGS HAVE DEPTH AT LINEBACKER
Back up linebacker Bryan Peters flashed a few times and made some impact plays for the Vikings, recovering a fumble that deflated the Steelers' momentum. It will be tough to make the Vikings 53 man roster with players like Abdul Hodge, Audie Cole, Brandon Watts, Michael Mauti, and rookie draft pick Edmond Robinson in the fold as depth, but practice squad may not be out of the question with more stand out performances.
Dri Archer had some nice moments, but still probably is nothing more than an above average kick returner and receiving back out of the backfield.
BOYKIN GETTING HIS SHOT
Brandon Boykin had some snaps on the outside in the first quarter. Boykin was moved from Philly after vocalizing the fact that he wanted to prove that he was more than just a very, very good nickel guy. In Pittsburgh, he may just get his chance.
Landry Jones is not very good at football. That is all on that.
-Although Stefon Diggs looked electric in his return, the rookie that stood out to me was Vikings TE MyCole Pruitt. Pruitt timed as the fasted TE in Indy during the combine this year, but seems to have taken to coaching very well by doing a great job on blocking out fellow rookie Bud Dupree on a few plays in addition to showcasing his speed on a couple of nice catches. Pruitt ended the day with 4 catches for 51 yards and 1 TD, which you can see below.
-On the other side, Steelers TE Jesse James struggled, to put it politely. The former Nittany Lion had a few mental errors and costly drops, one which would have given his team a touchdown, but instead led to a turnover. He also fumbled the ball, leading to a Steelers turnover. Although James will see limited time this year barring injury to either Heath Miller or Matt Spaeth, more performances like this will bury him behind fellow rookie Cameron Clear on the depth chart.
-Vikings CB Trae Waynes had a tough time covering the likes of CJ Goodwin and Shakim Phillips, getting burned for a couple of big plays and drawing some costly penalties. Waynes also did a couple of good things, especially in press coverage, however, in a division that sees Calvin Johnson, Randall Cobb/Jordy Nelson and Alshon Jeffery/Kevin White, Waynes will need to spend more time on technique and anticipation and not rely so heavily on his superior speed and athleticism.
-This Steelers offense was great last year, and it may have gotten even better with WR Sammie Coates in the mix. Coates ran his routes with conviction and got open more often than not. If he keeps focusing on his concentration, he can certainly have the same type of rookie impact that we saw from Martavis Bryant last season.
-Vikings DE Danielle Hunter got a ton of snaps (61), which is great experience for him. The Vikings coaching staff is likely looking to see how he can hold up against more physical linemen than what he faced in the SEC. Hunter held his own, showing more stoutness and punch than he exhibited at LSU, proving he can potentially turn into a starter at the LDE spot.
-Steelers OLB Bud Dupree didn't do anything poorly, but didn't do anything to stand out, either, registering only a tackle and a half despite seeing extended time. Vikings OT TJ Clemmings did a nice job of keeping Dupree in check in the second half. It certainly looks like the Vikings starting RG spot can be a toss up between Clemmings, Mike Harris, or fellow rookie OT Tyrus Thompson, who also played well.
-I would be remiss if I did not mention Vikings LB Eric Kendricks, who was one of my favorite prospects in the draft this year. Just like at UCLA, Kendricks displayed excellent instincts when dropping back into coverage, but it was his penetration as a blitzer that was most impressive, with one pressure in particular that led to a Tom Johnson sack.
-Former Miami Hurricane DE Anthony Chickillo got his reps playing at ROLB for the Steelers. A bit of a 'tweener coming out, I was unsure if the Steelers were going to beef him up to play on the defensive line, where he played at Miami, or if he would slim down a little bit and rush the edge. Based on this game, it is the latter, which I think is ultimately the better spot for Chickillo, who is more athletic than given credit for. Chickillo finished the game with 2 tackles.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Stefon Diggs' electrifying punt return put the Vikings in position for Joe Banyard to punch it in with a goal line run. Despite the play being challenged, it still looks to me like he was in for a TD. What do you think?
VIKINGS GAME BALL: TE MyCole Pruitt (4 rec 51 yds 1 TD)
STEELERS GAME BALL: RB Dri Archer (4 car 24 yds | 6 rec 33 yds | 1 ret 34 yds)
-Steelers K Shaun Suisham (Torn ACL - IR)