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Vikings top Seahawks 25-19 behind crisp preseason passing

Sun Aug 18 11:28pm ET
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Dan Bailey, Doug Baldwin, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Jaron Brown, Sean Mannion, Paxton Lynch, Kyle Sloter, Adam Thielen, Chad Beebe, Dalvin Cook, Kaare Vedvik, Mike Boone, Brandon Zylstra, Alexander Mattison, Irv Smith Jr., D.K. Metcalf

Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith, left, runs from Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Austin Calitro, right, after making a reception during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)


Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, front, tries to make a reception in front of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers, back, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, in Minneapolis. Flowers was called for pass interference on the play. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)


Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson throws a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)


Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) pitches the ball during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)


Fans arrive at U.S. Bank Stadium before an NFL preseason football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. and backup wide receiver Brandon Zylstra each had touchdown receptions for Minnesota and the Vikings displayed depth and versatility in their passing game in a 25-19 exhibition victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

Kirk Cousins led the starters for two drives, the last one yielding a chip-shot field goal by Dan Bailey, and finished 6 for 8 for 68 yards without a turnover. Second-string quarterback Sean Mannion made up for an interception that safety DeShawn Shead returned 88 yards for a score by finding Smith with a short throw into the end zone just before halftime.

Then Kyle Sloter delivered the touchdown pass to Zylstra in the third quarter, polishing off a decent night for an offense that underwent an offseason scheme change after an underwhelming first year with Cousins at the helm.

The first team took two turns for the Seahawks, too, and Russell Wilson went 6 for 9 for 82 yards without a turnover after sitting out the preseason opener. He had a 33-yard completion to Jaron Brown, who has a starting wide receiver spot for now following the retirement of Doug Baldwin. First-round draft pick D.K. Metcalf did not play because of a leg injury. Brown's catch set up the first of four field goals by Jason Myers.

Seattle's pass rush was strong in the first half, with Barkevious Mingo pressuring Mannion as he threw before Chad Beebe was expecting the ball after his turn on a hitch route. The blocking for Minnesota will continue to be the most scrutinized aspect of the team, and the starting offensive line, missing injured right tackle Brian O'Neill, was vulnerable in spots. Cousins and rookie center Garrett Bradbury shared a botched under-center snap resulting in a fumble the Vikings recovered.

Mannion went 11 for 14 for 88 yards. Sloter finished 11 for 13 for 116 yards.

JUST KICKING IT

The Vikings gave Kaare Vedvik his debut a week after acquiring him in a trade with Baltimore. He punted three times for a 46.7-yard average, handled kickoffs and made his only extra point attempt.

DAY OF REST

All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner watched from the sideline in a Seahawks sweatshirt, being eased back into action following a minor knee procedure . Defensive end Ezekial Ansah remains in rehab mode following offseason shoulder surgery.

The Vikings again held running back Dalvin Cook out as a precaution and gave rookie Alexander Mattison 10 carries for 41 yards. Mike Boone followed him with 21 rushes for 66 yards, plus a 45-yard reception. Defensive tackles Shamar Stephen and Linval Joseph were also both not suited up for the second straight week.

TESTING, TESTING

Adam Thielen caught a 34-yard pass from Cousins, an over-the-shoulder ball near the sideline after he beat Shaquill Griffin in coverage. With the NFL encouraging teams in the preseason to test the new instant replay rule that makes pass interference reviewable, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll tossed his red flag to see if he could get a penalty on the Vikings. Thielen was bewildered, respectfully assuring Carroll and Wagner during the review that there was no foul.

The no-call was upheld. Then on the next play, Thielen drew a defensive pass interference penalty on Tre Flowers inside the 10.

BIG HIT

Vikings cornerback Holton Hill was ejected in the fourth quarter for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Paxton Lynch, whose neck snapped back awkwardly from the impact. After needing some time for evaluation, Lynch, the leader in the competition to be Wilson's backup, walked off on his own. J.T. Barrett replaced him.

UP NEXT

Seahawks: Play at the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night.

Vikings: Host the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.

Player Notes
Everson Griffen Feb 25 2:00am ET

The Cleveland Browns will likely be looking to replace defensive end Olivier Vernon this offseason, as he's due to make $15.25 million in 2020. Vernon will either be released or will need to take a pay cut to stay in Cleveland. If Vernon is released, the Browns could look to defensive end Everson Griffen or free safety Anthony Harris on the open market. New head coach Kevin Stefanski is familiar with both players from his time with the Vikings. The Browns will be looking to upgrade their pass-rushers and safeties in the offseason. Vernon, 30 this October, played in just 10 games in 2019 with the Browns and recorded just 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

From RotoBaller

Hayden Hurst Feb 25 1:50am ET

There's a real chance that the Baltimore Ravens move tight end Hayden Hurst this offseason, and the Patriots could be involved, according to sources. The Patriots were heavily linked to Hurst prior to the 2018 draft. Hurst was selected with the 25th overall pick in the first round that year, but he's underwhelmed with 43 catches for 512 yards and three touchdowns in his two seasons in the NFL and has fallen down Baltimore's depth chart behind Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle. New England will be looking to beef up their receiver depth, including at tight end, so Hurst could be a player on the rise if he's dealt to New England. Of course, the Patriots might not have Tom Brady under center in 2020 either.

From RotoBaller

Justin Simmons Feb 25 1:50am ET

Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons said in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday that he expects to receive the franchise tag. Over the Cap estimates that the tag for safeties this year will be worth $12.7 million. Simmons is hoping that he'll be able to work out a long-term deal by the deadline of July 15 if the Broncos put the tag on him. The former third-round pick on 2016 is developing into one of the better safeties in the league. The 26-year-old had 93 tackles (65 solo)and a career-high four interceptions over a full season in 2019. Simmons has had 90-plus total tackles each of the last two seasons and should remain in Denver for the long-term.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Feb 25 1:40am ET

Dallas Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said that the team hasn't met or negotiated with quarterback Dak Prescott's agent Todd France since September of last year. There haven't been talks between the two sides this offseason, but they may meet during the scouting combine this week. Jones also said that no contracts with Prescott or wide receiver Amari Cooper will be agreed upon until the new collective-bargaining rules for 2020 are decided. The Cowboys had a "very upbeat" conversation with Cooper's representation during Super Bowl week. The Cowboys continue to say that Prescott is their quarterback of the future. Expect talks to heat up this week, with Prescott ultimately staying in Dallas as a high-end QB1 for fantasy owners.

From RotoBaller

Leighton Vander Esch Feb 25 1:40am ET

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck) is expected to take part in spring workouts to some degree. "Once we see him, we'll have a better feel for it. But he'll have some limitations up until training camp before we really turn him loose," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. Vander Esch was a stud in his rookie season, but he played in just nine games in 2019 because of his neck injury, recording 72 tackles (43 solo), half a sack and one forced fumble. If fully healthy entering the 2020 season, LVE can be an IPD force because of his tackling ability from sideline to sideline. The Cowboys need him in the middle of the field on defense.

From RotoBaller

Tom Brady Feb 25 1:30am ET

In a discussion between ESPN reporters Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter on the Rich Eisen show last week, Darlington said that he expects the Tennessee Titans to "be in the mix" to sign New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who will become a free agent next month. The Raiders might also try to make a splash and sign Brady if the Patriots let him reach the open market. It would be a surprise if Brady left New England, but he's considering other options and could choose a playoff contender like the Titans after they reached the AFC Championship last year. Brady also played with Titans head coach Mike Vrabel in New England. Brady lacked weapons in the passing game in 2019, but he also looked a little washed up. If he were to go to Tennessee's run-first offense, Brady would be squarely in the QB2 mix with limited fantasy upside.

From RotoBaller

Yannick Ngakoue Feb 24 4:10pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue wants a long-term deal and is looking for $22 million annually. Ngakoue said he would be unlikely to show up until Aug. 11 if he had to play under the franchise tag. The young pass-rusher has compiled 37.5 sacks (second on the all-time franchise list) since being drafted in the third round of 2016. He also has 14 forced fumbles in that time. If the Jags place the tag on Ngakoue, which ESPN's Mike DiRocco expects, it would be for around $19.3 million in 2020. The 24-year-old (25 next month) had eight sacks, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception last year and is firmly in the mix in IDP leagues with what he's done the last four seasons.

From RotoBaller

Adam Vinatieri Feb 24 4:00pm ET

The Indianapolis Colts are unsure if kicker Adam Vinatieri, who will be a free agent next month, will return in 2020. The 47-year-old future Hall of Famer is rehabbing the knee injury that he dealt with last season, and he hasn't decided yet on if he will retire. The 2019 season was the worst year of Vinatieri's long career, as he missed 14 kicks total -- eight field goals and six extra points -- and landed on Injured Reserve in Week 13. The Colts also signed Chase McLaughlin to a one-year extension in January, so Vinatieri might not be back even if he decides to keep playing.

From RotoBaller

Matt Schaub Feb 24 3:20pm ET

The Atlanta Falcons are expected to pick up quarterback Matt Schaub's $2 million option for the 2020 season, according to a source. Schaub made just one start in 2019 and was underwhelming in place of Matt Ryan. The veteran signal-caller attempted 67 passes for 580 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in parts of six games last season. He'll be 39 in June and is a shaky backup option if Matty Ice were to miss any more games next season due to injury. Even if Schaub is starting games at some point next year, he'd be a shaky second QB in two-quarterback leagues.

From RotoBaller

Vontaze Burfict Feb 24 2:13pm ET

Free-agent LB Vontaze Burfict (Raiders) was reinstated by the league in January and has reportedly been working out at his alma mater (Arizona State) in an effort to returning to the NFL in 2020. Burfict was suspended for the final 12 games of the 2019 season after delivering a helmet-to-helmet hit to Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle.

From TheHuddle

Yannick Ngakoue Feb 24 11:33am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars impending free-agent DE Yannick Ngakoue is seeking a long-term deal that pays $22 million annually. The franchise tag would be worth around $19.3 million if used on him.

Fantasy Spin: Ngakoue was tied for fifth in fantasy points at the position last season in 15 games. It was a down year that he only had eight sacks, and there is certainly is more in the tank.

From TheHuddle

Austin Ekeler Feb 23 11:43pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler needs to see 15 to 20 touches per game, according to head coach Anthony Lynn.

Fantasy Spin: Ekeler is one of the more versatile backs in the NFL, and he finished 2019 with 92 catches and eight receiving touchdowns. There's a good chance he will be he unquestioned top back and a potential RB1 in 2020 if Melvin Gordon doesn't return, but even if Gordon is back, Ekeler can be a RB2 in PPR formats.

From TheHuddle

Marlon Mack Feb 23 11:40pm ET

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said on Sunday that the team isn't pursuing a long-term contract extension with running back Marlon Mack currently. It doesn't mean that it's not on the table or that the Colts don't want to keep Mack around for the long-term, but it's not a pressing issue. The 23-year-old (24 next month) is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2020 season. He's been the starter the last two years and had 247 carries for 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019. However, he's also missed eight games the last two seasons, so Indy might be hesitant in thinking he'll continue to be a lead back for years to come. Mack does have a strong offensive line in front of him, but he'll be more of a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 going into the final year of his contract in 2020.

From RotoBaller

D.J. Chark Feb 23 10:13pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. credits his success in 2019 to an improved commitment to preparation, and Mike DiRocco of ESPN.com believes Chark should deliver 1,000 receiving yards and eight to 10 touchdowns in 2020.

Fantasy Spin: Chark emerged as the top receiver for the Jaguars in 2019, and while Jacksonville is unlikely to have a high-powered passing attack, Chark should be able to deliver WR3 production as the No. 1 option.

From TheHuddle

JuJu Smith-Schuster Feb 23 9:53pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster had eight catches on 11 targets in the six quarters he played with QB Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) in 2019, and Brooke Pryor of ESPN believes Smith-Schuster needs another 'reliable offensive weapon' to be at his best.

Fantasy Spin: While Smith-Schuster's numbers would have been better with a healthy Roethlisberger under center, we still don't know if he can replicate his monster 2018 numbers as the go-to option of the passing attack.

From TheHuddle

Mike Gesicki Feb 23 9:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki will likely be used as a slot receiver in sets featuring three or more receivers in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey's system, according to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com.

Fantasy Spin: After a quiet rookie year, Gesicki showed signs of life in 2019, finishing with 51 catches for 570 yards and five touchdowns. He could be worth a flier as a high-upside TE2.

From TheHuddle

Jihad Ward Feb 23 8:53pm ET

The Baltimore Ravens are hopeful of re-signing DE/LB Jihad Ward, a pending unrestricted free agent. The team thinks he fits well with them and they like his motor, versatility. The two sides have had discussions over the past week.

From TheHuddle

Devin McCourty Feb 23 8:43pm ET

New England Patriots FS Devin McCourty might be a candidate for the franchise tag, and he could cost $11.5 million against the cap if that's the route head coach Bill Belichick and company elect.

From TheHuddle

Stephen Gostkowski Feb 23 8:23pm ET

New England Patriots PK Stephen Gostkowski (hip) has one year remaining on his contract, but he is 36 years old and coming off hip surgery. Releasing him would free up nearly $3.5 million in salary cap space.

From TheHuddle

Marlon Mack Feb 23 8:03pm ET

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack is not in line for a contract extension at this time. '(Marlon), we love him, but we love the other two guys. We want him back and he wants to be back, really. There were some mis-reports that we were pursuing an extension there. That's not the case. I don't know where those came from,' team owner Jim Irsay said Sunday, Feb. 23.

From TheHuddle