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Miscommunication with Cordarrelle Patterson at heart of Shaun Hill's turnover

MINNEAPOLIS -- When asked about his second-quarter interception on Saturday night, backup quarterback Shaun Hill chose diplomacy. When approached about the same play, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson chose silence. But Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer offered a hint on Saturday night about what happened on the miscommunication between Hill and Patterson.

Asked what happened on the play, Zimmer said, "Yeah, there was miscommunication." Then asked if Patterson ran the wrong route, Zimmer replied with a smirk, "Probably -- if you were a betting man."

Those 11 words were all Zimmer said about the play, but in his second year as the Vikings' head coach, Zimmer has already become a master of saying everything while saying little. And his response suggested Patterson, who played 21 snaps on Saturday night, still has some work to do if he wants to earn the Vikings' trust as a receiver.

Patterson was targeted four times on Saturday night, catching two passes for 8 yards. He had a taunting penalty on the series following a touchdown catch last Saturday against Tampa Bay, and it appears at the moment he'll start the season out of the Vikings' three-receiver set, on a team that rarely put four wideouts on the field at the same time last year.

Wide receiver Charles Johnson, who caught four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown from Teddy Bridgewater on Saturday night, will start at split end and could have a major role in the offense. The Vikings made a trade for Mike Wallace the centerpiece of their offseason, and Jarius Wright could be in line for a new contract after showing steady improvement in his first three years. That means the opportunities for Patterson on offense could be few and far between, unless there's an injury or he overtakes someone on the depth chart.

Here are a few other notes from the Vikings' participation chart on Saturday night:

  • Anthony Barr got 14 snaps in his first action of the preseason, and deflected a pass in his work with the first team. "He was OK, I thought," Zimmer said. "I didn't particularly watch him. We blitzed him once or twice to kind of get his feet wet." With Saturday's game in Dallas likely serving as the Vikings' dress rehearsal, Barr could get a bigger chunk of playing time as the team looks to get him ready for the regular-season opener on Sept. 14.

  • A longer stretch of work for the first-team offense meant the Vikings' offensive line protected Teddy Bridgewater for 25 snaps, before staying on to work with Hill for another eight. Right tackle T.J. Clemmings allowed a tackle for loss on the first offensive play of the game, but seemed to fare well in most of his one-on-one matchups. The Vikings' starting offensive line was without center John Sullivan on Saturday, but hasn't allowed a sack in the preseason.

  • The Vikings took a longer look at safety Andrew Sendejo on Saturday, playing him for 47 snaps and giving him some work with Harrison Smith after Robert Blanton came out of the game. Blanton, who once again started at strong safety, played 14 snaps.

  • Linebacker Eric Kendricks started the game in the Vikings' base defense, and got some work in the first-team nickel package with Barr. He played 20 snaps, though the Vikings used Audie Cole and Gerald Hodges at middle linebacker and Zimmer cautioned reporters not to read too much into who is playing with whom in the preseason. "We’re trying to get Kendricks going against guys that are probably a little bit better than the guys he’d been playing against," Zimmer said. "We’re just moving all guys around. You never know what’s going to happen."

  • Trae Waynes was at left cornerback in the Vikings' top nickel package, as the Vikings kept him out of the slot to simplify things for him in his third preseason game. At some point, Zimmer said, the Vikings could take another look at the 11th overall pick in the slot.