Sat Aug 24 4:52pm ET
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018 file photo, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Detroit. With rookie Alexander Mattison at the top of the candidate list and Ameer Abdullah returning after a late-season arrival last year, the Minnesota Vikings are looking for another running back to emerge as a reliable complement to Dalvin Cook. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez, File)
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen (97) pressures Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, right, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs from Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck, right, after making a reception during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs from Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (95) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Arizona Cardinals place kicker Zane Gonzalez (5) kicks a 32-yard field goal in front of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes, left, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook celebrates with teammate CJ Ham (30) after scoring on an 85-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs from Arizona Cardinals defenders Tramaine Brock (20) and D.J. Swearinger (36) during an 85-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins runs off the field during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray throws a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Dalvin Cook had an 85-yard touchdown run for Minnesota, the highlight of an otherwise rough first half by the first-team offense during a 20-9 victory by the Vikings over the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.
Cook scored early and Mike Boone crossed the goal line late, as the Vikings totaled 190 yards on 29 carries. The ground game was by far the best development of an afternoon when Kirk Cousins went just 3 for 13 for 35 yards while taking two sacks and Kaare Vedvik missed field goals from 43 and 54 yards.
Rookie Kyler Murray, the first overall pick in the draft to whom new coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals have turned to lead the reconstruction project, was relatively sharp while going 14 for 21 for 137 yards over the five possessions against a Vikings defense that was almost at full strength. Three of the drives ended with a successful field goal by Zane Gonzalez, a result that surely made the Vikings envious.
Vedvik, who has been given an extended evaluation as both a kicker and a punter, made both of his extra point attempts, at least, while incumbent Dan Bailey took the afternoon off. Matt Wile punted six times for an average of 47.3 yards, leaving no more clarity about the specialists than when the month began.
Cousins was under frequent pressure and had multiple passes knocked down at the line, including one deflection by rookie Zach Allen, who had a half-sack. Another Cardinals draft pick, KeeSean Johnson, stood out on the other side of the ball with seven receptions for 85 yards on seven targets.
One of the most discouraging aspects of the performance for Kingsbury and his staff were the 14 penalties for 111 yards, including two false starts called on backup quarterback Brett Hundley in a three-snap stretch late in the second quarter for apparently lifting his leg to signal a receiver to start his motion.
THE LONG RUN
The Cardinals were last in the league last season in rushing defense, allowing an average of nearly 155 yards per game that was bumped up by the Vikings here last Oct. 14 in a 27-17 victory fueled by a career-high 155 rushing yards from Latavius Murray.
Cook made the Cardinals look bad again, when he took a handoff to the left and veered right behind a key seal block by new right guard Josh Kline. The new zone blocking scheme directed by offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, senior offensive adviser Gary Kubiak and offensive line coach Rick Dennison ought to be a good fit for Cook with his keen cutback ability. The touchdown run was the longest in a preseason game in Vikings history, topping a 76-yarder by Jordan Todman in 2012.
Cardinals: New WR Michael Crabtree, the 11th-year veteran who signed with the team earlier this week, did not suit up. Neither did CB Patrick Peterson, the eight-time Pro Bowl pick facing a six-game suspension to start the regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancers.
Vikings: DT Linval Joseph, who joined the team for practice this week for the first time since offseason shoulder surgery, was held out of the starting lineup, as was SS Harrison Smith. On offense, WR Adam Thielen rested, and RT Brian O'Neill stayed on the sideline again, after returning to the field this week following a three-week absence because of a right arm injury.
Cardinals: Play at Denver on Thursday night in their final exhibition game. The regular-season opener is Sept. 8 against Detroit.
Vikings: Play at Tennessee on Thursday night in their final exhibition game. The regular-season opener is Sept. 8 against Atlanta.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (calf) stands a good chance of playing in Week 4 after missing Week 3 with a calf injury, according to comments made by head coach Doug Pederson.
Fantasy Spin: Before his fantasy owners celebrate, the Eagles play Thursday night on the road against the Green Bay Packers, meaning he has less time to heal up and a difficult matchup. Nevertheless, Philadelphia needs the playmaking ability he provides, especially after losing the last two weeks. Consider him a WR3 this week if he can go.
Indianapolis Colts S Malik Hooker (knee) is expected to miss four to six weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee, according to a source via ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Updating a previous report, New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) is expected to be sidelined anywhere from four to eight weeks - with the longer timeline being the more likely of the two outcomes - with the high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 3 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fantasy Spin: ESPN's Adam Schefter speculates Barkley could return after the team's Week 11 bye in order to play the last six games of the season. Wayne Gallman is the only running back on the roster at the moment, meaning he will likely see the bulk of the workload for the immediate future even in the likely event New York adds a running back in the near future. However, he'll likely be little more than a flex option most weeks.
Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay (hamstring) left the game for good early in the third quarter with a hamstring injury in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He offered only a 'we'll see' when asked if he'll be able to play in Week 4 versus the Kansas City Chiefs, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Updating previous reports, Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) will not practice due to an illness Monday, Sept. 23. A source told ESPN's Josina Anderson that Ramsey is actually sick and not trying to force the team's hand in regards to his recent trade demands.
Detroit Lions DT Mike Daniels (foot) was spotted in a walking boot following the team's Week 3 game versus the Philadelphia Eagles.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot) will not play in Week 4 against the Houston Texans. 'What Cam needs right now is time and rest for his foot. We want him at 100 percent when he's ready, so there's no exact timetable for his return. At this point, we're going to go forward with Kyle (Allen) as our starter,' head coach Ron Rivera said.
Fantasy Spin: Allen was brilliant in his place in Week 3, throwing for four touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals. Rivera immediately shot down any speculation Newton will not remain the starter when he's healthy, although the jury remains out on when that will be. Allen will remain on the streaming radar in Week 4.
Updating previous reports, Atlanta Falcons S Keanu Neal (Achilles) will miss the remainder of the 2019 season after tearing his Achilles tendon in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Updating previous reports, New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) is expected to miss several weeks due to his high-ankle sprain, according to sources.
Fantasy Spin: It's not a surprise, and it's going to sting all Barkley owners. Wayne Gallman is expected to take over for Barkley, but he is not the answer in fantasy and won't be much more than a flex option in good matchups. Look for the Giants to find someone to bring in from the outside to at least share the work.
Updating an earlier report, Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) will be examined by team doctors Monday, Sept. 23.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (ribs) will have more tests done, and he may have an MRI Monday, Sept. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Edelman has a positive outlook for Week 4 unless something more severe is found. He's a good WR2 universally.
Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) will not practice Monday, Sept. 23, or maybe all week, due to illness.
Updating previous reports, Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps) aggravated the quadriceps injury he had coming into the game Sunday, Sept. 22. Hilton re-injured it a couple of plays before he scored a touchdown, but he didn't want to leave the game before the drive was over because he knew he wasn't coming back. He'll have tests done for re-evaluation.
Fantasy Spin: If he's able to recover in time for Week 4, he'll have a great matchup against the Oakland Raiders. More will be known later in the day after tests are done.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis caught four of his five targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Sadly, all of those marks are season highs. Pettis was quiet for most of the game, but his TD catch with 1:15 remaining was the game-winner and very much a "trust throw" from Jimmy Garoppolo as he split two defenders from about five yards away. It seems likely Pettis will eventually find his way back into head coach Kyle Shanahan's good graces and be fantasy relevant again soon, but he should be on waivers in most normal-sized leagues now. He'll have a chance to prove himself again after the team's Week 4 bye.
San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida ran 14 times for 68 yards and hauled in two of his three targets for 20 yards in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Breida's 16 touches are a season high, but his upside is capped by sharing touches with Raheem Mostert outside the red zone and losing goal-line work to Jeff Wilson. The frustrating thing for fantasy owners is San Francisco is averaging nearly 40 rushing attempts and unable to make any one of its three backs anything more than a flex option. Breida has the most consistent role of the bunch, and he figures to remain a high-end flex when the 49ers return from their bye to meet the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.
Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt had an interception and a fumble recovery against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. Watt added two tackles, two passes defensed and two quarterback hits.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly was on the right end of a reception once again as he was the chosen one for the team's final garbage-time touchdown of the game on Sunday. Dissly was targeted seven times, caught six passes, and tallied 62 yards in the game, exact copies of his season stats coming into the matchup. The rainy conditions seemed to make Dissly more appealing to quarterback Russell Wilson, and it looks like he trusts that Dissly is a solid release valve when he finds himself in trouble. Be wary of Seattle's knack for letting certain receivers go to rot quickly after they look great, but for now, Dissly could be a real part of the offense moving forward.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington accounted for 14 yards on two receptions in the team's Week 3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Fantasy Spin: With Donte Moncrief inactive there was hope that Washington would step up, but Pittsburgh's passing game flailed around outside of a pair of long TD connections. While there's still some long-term upside with Washington, he's only worth stashing in larger leagues.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle caught six of his eight targets for 57 yards in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle opened the season with consecutive 54-yard outings. It's a bit of an anomaly that a big-play threat like Kittle hasn't enjoyed a huge day or scored a touchdown yet, but his time is coming; he's had a bit of bad luck this season after having a lot of good fortune in 2018. The 49ers will go on a bye in Week 4, but he'll remain an elite TE1 option when he returns to action in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster caught three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Seventy-six of Smith-Schuster's 81 receiving yards came on a long touchdown, salvaging an otherwise unimpressive first game post-Big Ben. Week 4 presents a tasty matchup with the Bengals, which means Smith-Schuster should remain in your starting lineup.