Now that the Vikings have a preseason game in the books, following their 17-10 win over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night, let’s take a brief look at three players who helped themselves in their bid for a roster spot, and three who didn’t. Presenting our Vikings stock watch:
1. Stacy Coley: Yes, there appeared to be miscommunication between the wide receiver and Case Keenum at the heart of an incomplete pass on a third down, when Keenum was looking for Coley on a go route and Coley broke his route off. But other than that, the wide receiver had an impressive night, turning a slant into a 38-yard gain by posting 24 yards after the catch. He led the Vikings with three catches for 67 yards.
2. Keenum: He’ll be on the roster, but he helped himself even more in his battle for the backup quarterback spot with Taylor Heinicke. Keenum has had a sharper camp than Heinicke, and on Thursday night, he completed 11 of his 16 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown, also scrambled for a first down when he gained seven yards on a 3rd-and-3 in the second quarter.
3. Eric Wilson: Vikings coaches have been high on the undrafted free agent so far this spring, and he led the team with six combined tackles while also breaking up two passes. One of them, of course, hit Wilson in the hands and should have been intercepted, but he showed solid speed and range in the run game, as well.
1. Heinicke: Two years ago, the undrafted free agent used a strong exhibition season to secure a spot on the Vikings’ roster. He might have had a chance at the No. 2 job last year had he not severed a tendon in his foot while trying to help kick in a friend’s locked door. He’s been shaky in camp this year, and completed just three of his eight passes for 20 yards on Thursday night, throwing a two-yard touchdown but also throwing an ill-advised interception while he was on the run. He’ll need to be better next Friday against Seattle.
2. T.J. Clemmings: You didn’t notice Clemmings for a decent chunk of the game at guard, which is a good thing after two rocky years for him at tackle. But his one penalty was a big one: Clemmings was flagged for holding in the third quarter, wiping out what would have been a long pass interference penalty on the Bills after Heinicke’s deep ball for Isaac Fruechte.
3. Pat Elflein: The third-round pick is going to be on the roster, but if he continues to have issues snapping the ball accurately, as he did in training camp and again on Thursday night, he’s going to have a difficult time unseating Nick Easton for the starting job. Heinicke had to recover a low shotgun snap from Elflein in the third quarter, and managed to scramble for a 19-yard gain on third down.