The Minnesota Vikings' top Draft picks struggled Thursday, but several other rookies shined in the team's 27-18 preseason win over the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium.
First-round pick Laquon Treadwell dropped two passes in the first half for the Vikings. Second-round pick Mackensie Alexander was called for a horse-collar penalty and yielded a touchdown pass on the Rams' first drive.
Rookies Jhurell Pressley and Jayron Kearse helped the Vikings overcome those miscues, however, as Minnesota rested its starters in preparation for its Sept. 11 opener vs. the Tennessee Titans.
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Here is take a deeper look at Minnesota's 2016 preseason-opening win:
SUNDAY SCHOOL (THREE DAYS EARLY)
-- Undrafted rookie Joel Stave started at quarterback for the Vikings two days after Teddy Bridgewater's injury. Backup Shaun Hill did not play. Stave completed 9 of 18 passes for 76 yards but was under pressure for most of the night. He left the game late in the second quarter with a left hand injury and did not return. Recently re-signed Brad Sorensen played the remainder of the game, completing 4 of 9 passes for 53 yards and one interception.
-- Alexander was flagged for a horse-collar tackle on the opening kickoff and subsequently missed a tackle on third-and-short to yield a first down. The cornerback out of Clemson then allowed Kenny Britt to catch a one-yard touchdown pass from the Rams' Jared Goff on third-and-goal, as the Rams scored in just 3 minutes and 23 seconds.
-- Treadwell dropped his first target of the game on a 2nd-and-11 in the first quarter. He drew a pass interference call on a Rams defender on his second target, but he dropped his third. Treadwell finished the game with one catch for five yards.
-- Wide receiver Jarius Wright made his case for a roster spot, catching three passes for 35 yards. That included a nice sideline catch for 19 yards on third-and-12 midway through the second quarter, after Stave rolled out.
-- Kearse continued his strong preseason, recovering a muffed Rams punt and forcing a fumble on a Los Angeles punt return in the fourth quarter. Kearse was a seventh-round draft pick for the Vikings out of Clemson. The team's other seventh-round pick, Stephen Weatherly, recovered a Goff fumble inside the Rams' 10-yard line in the second quarter.
-- Pressley scored twice for the Vikings, first on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Sorensen in the second quarter and then on a 106-yard kick return in the third. The Vikings signed Pressley, an undrafted running back out of New Mexico, in May. Undrafted rookie running back C.J. Ham also had a good game, rushing 15 times for 59 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown.
-- Justin Trattou got a hand on a Goff pass late in the first half, and Toby Johnson dove and caught it for an interception.
-- The Vikings did not turn the ball over, while the Rams had four. That helped Minnesota negate the Rams' 286-182 advantage in total yards.
-- Rookie linebacker Kentrell Brothers, Kearse and Alexander led the Vikings with eight tackles. Weatherly and Travis Raciti had 1 1/2 sacks each, and Zach Moore added another sack.
WHAT IT MEANT
The Vikings won after the emotional letdown of losing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a torn ACL. They finished the preseason 4-0 and showed the strength of their team remains with their defense.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Pressley. He scored two touchdowns for the Vikings, giving them breathing room as the Rams came back in the fourth quarter.
-- "Teddy is such a great kid. . . . It really hurt us to see him down." -- running back Adrian Peterson
-- "We've got confidence in the guys we've got out there. . . . Defensively, we're going to step up. We're going to make plays to give our offense chances." -- defensive end Brian Robison talking about Bridgewater's absence
-- "Someone has to step in and the whole team has to really around that guy. . . . We're going to be the same team, still very talented in a lot of places. This being my second year here, I really . . . I feel comfortable with the guys, and I think they feel comfortable with me. We're not going to miss a step." -- Hill
-- "Losing a key leader like Ted and the things he's doing at QB is tough. . . . We haven't even started the season yet. So many things can happen and we got to take it on ourselves." -- linebacker Chad Greenway
"I know Teddy will attack the rehab like no one else. He's young and we expect a full recovery from him." -- general manager Rick Spielman
"We'll look at everything. We're going to look at veterans, we're going to look at guys who were released. . . . We spent the last 48 hours watching almost every quarterback in the NFL." --Spielman on finding a quarterback
The Vikings need to cut down their roster to 53 by Saturday at 3 p.m. Teams will finalize their rosters with waiver claims and practice squad Sunday. Minnesota opens the regular season Sept. 11 at noon at the Tennessee Titans.