NFC North: T.J. Rushing
INDIANAPOLIS -- We hit Minnesota's quarterback competition pretty thoroughly Friday night. But ESPN.com has learned that Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson weren't the only players on the field Friday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
So in honor of the other 78, let's consider five (non-quarterback) observations from the Vikings' 13-3 victory over Indianapolis:
- Minnesota's first-team defense played only one series, a six-play drive that ultimately netted the Colts zero yards. The Vikings sacked quarterback Peyton Manning three times, and afterwards Colts coach Jim Caldwell had seen enough. He called it a night and yanked Manning from the game. "It's hard for them to catch it with the ball in his hands," coach Brad Childress said. Consider it an efficient night for a defense that hasn't gotten much attention this summer.
- The Vikings' special teams played with the urgency to be expected from a group that needs to make serious improvement from last season. The Colts' average starting point in 10 possessions was their 21-yard line. They averaged 15.3 yards on four kickoff returns and 6.0 yards on two punt returns. And Vikings newcomer Glenn Holt made a spectacular tackle in the third quarter to stop Colts punt returner T.J. Rushing. The end result was a fumble for Rushing and a 52-yard net for punter Chris Kluwe. "I thought those guys were whipped up pretty good," Childress said.
- The Vikings were downplaying an apparent hamstring injury for receiver Bernard Berrian, but you wonder if it will shorten or possibly end his preseason. While there is some value to having Berrian work with the Vikings' quarterbacks in game situations, it's more important to have his legs fresh when the season begins. There's nothing worse than a receiver with a bad wheel. I'd be surprised if Berrian plays much more during the preseason.
- If the Vikings keep a third running back they'll have a tough choice between first-year player Albert Young (58 yards on 14 carries) and rookie Ian Johnson (50 yards on nine carries). Both are compact backs but run hard and move straight up the field.
- First-year receiver Jaymar Johnson returned punts and kickoffs in the absence of rookie Percy Harvin (shoulder). The good news: Johnson is smooth and appears to have excellent hands and confidence. But if Johnson has a burst to get past the first wave of coverage, he didn't show it Friday night.