A team's general manager tends not to talk often — and when he or she does, frequently not much is said.
Both of those things are true about Vikings GM Rick Spielman, the latter of which got the supreme Patrick Reusse treatment on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast.
If you don't see the podcast player, tap here to listen.
But as someone who watched almost all of the Vikings' third and final preseason game Friday — yes, I did that just for you — I was interested in Spielman's in-game comments. He spent the entire third quarter in the TV/radio booth with Paul Allen and Pete Bercich, opining on and reacting to a wide range of things.
I went back and listened to it again Monday morning — again, just for you — in an attempt to glean five takeaways from Spielman's on-air comments.
1) The roster is top-heavy, and Spielman knows the Vikings are largely dependent on their high-end players: The Vikings trailed 21-3 at halftime, so highlights were at a minimum. Spielman was asked about the opening drive led by Kirk Cousins, which ended in a field goal after it stalled deep in Kansas City territory.
"A lot of young guys out there still playing and learning. They're getting better every week," Spielman said about the end of the drive. "But you saw Irv Smith get a chance to get a couple plays his way. The offensive line did some good things. We're down to our third running back with Ameer Abdullah so we have a lot of young guys playing. … There are a lot of growing pains going on right now, but once we get our main guys out there we will be definitely ready to go."
The biggest thing the Vikings have going for them right now is that a lot of their best players didn't play much (or at all) in the preseason. Conversely, the Vikings might be relying on those "young guys out there still playing and learning" if injuries hit. Case in point: Smith is now reportedly going to miss the start of the season.
2) He's rooting hard for QB Kellen Mond: Spielman's third-round pick had an uneven game. He was intercepted early in the third quarter — something Spielman attributed in part to tight end Zach Davidson not going after the ball enough — and fumbled later in the quarter while also mixing in some nice throws and runs.
A couple times when Mond escaped the pocket, Spielman seemed particularly pleased and was almost coaching him from the booth to stay outside and use his legs.
"Just to see the speed of the game and what's going on," Spielman said of the value of Mond playing in the preseason. "You can get the practices and get the reads, but when you get in games like this, especially for young quarterbacks in the preseason, you're going to get hit. So they have to get through their progressions quicker."
We'll see how far the Vikings and Spielman think Mond has progressed as they consider their No. 2 QB options for this season in the coming days.
3) There are growing pains up and down the bottom 35 of the roster: Spielman mentioned "growing pains," and there were sure plenty just in his one quarter in the booth. Mond had the two aforementioned turnovers. There were several penalties. Right after Spielman praised rookie DB Cam Bynum, Kansas City scored a long touchdown in which Bynum missed a tackle. Not long after he praised Ihmir Smith-Marsette, he had a holding penalty.
Spielman mentioned staying on schedule on offense by avoiding penalties. Multiple people in the booth let out disappointed "ahhhs" when Mond threw the interception.
4) I think we know who the kick returner is going to be: Smith-Marsette looked good again on kickoff returns and earned praise from Spielman for his approach to returns. For a team that was lacking in that area in 2020, it seems to be a signal of where things are headed in 2021.
"When you watch him and you watched him right there, there was no hesitation when he hits the seam," Spielman said of one return. "He's going to get his foot in the ground and get upfield and get as much as he can get. We feel he has a great chance to be an explosive returner, especially on the kickoff side, as he continues to grow in this league."
5) An interesting omission on the third receiver subject: Not to read too much into things because the questions and answers were flying fast, but Spielman was asked about receiver Chad Beebe after a long catch-and run.
"He's a reliable third receiver," Spielman said. "He's in the competition (for) that No. 3 spot with K.J. Osborn who's had a great training camp and Smith-Marsette who's also had a great training camp."
Spielman didn't mention Dede Westbrook, the veteran coming off a torn ACL, in that conversation. It could just be that he isn't front-brain because the other three players contributed Friday, but that bears watching as the Vikings make 53-man roster decisions.