For players on the roster bubble, Friday night’s preseason finale against the Cowboys was their opportunity to make a final statement and showcase why they are good enough to be included on the Vikings 53-man roster.
There was a trio of Vikings that particularly stood out following the game. So, let’s take a look at each of them and then see what Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress had to say about them:
RB Ian Johnson – Battling for the 3rd RB job with 2nd-year player Albert Young, Johnson had an uphill battle all of training camp and the preseason. But he’s risen to the challenge constantly and the culminated last night in a 17-carry effort that saw him tally 61 yards rushing and 2 TDs.
“I thought Ian flashed,” Childress said after the game. “He had some explosive runs there and I thought he circled the defense well. He also ran it inside between the tackles pretty well. As EB (RBs coach Eric Bieniemy) says, that’s as good a group of running backs that we’ve entered camp with as any time since we’ve been here.”
LB Kenny Onatolu – An underdog roster candidate out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Onatolu represented the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association well with the Vikings during training camp. And he put an exclamation point on his NFL career to date last night against the Cowboys by recording 5 tackles (1 for a loss) and 2 fumble recoveries.
“He’s another guy that’s a football player,” Childress said. “He’s a quick study, he’s a guy that’s been around as a gym rat ever since he could be back on March 17th. He hasn’t missed any days…spends time in the building and his special teams obviously stands out, but he’s really grown in the defense and you can see some of his explosive components and some of his speed to make plays.”
WR Darius Reynaud – You hear constantly that the best way for bubble players to make the roster is to show the coaching staff that they can contribute on multiple phases. There is perhaps no better example of such a player than Reynaud, who not only takes reps during practice on several phases but also produces during games in several phases. Against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 of the preseason, Reynaud hauled in a 64-yard TD reception. And last night he housed an 81-yard punt return.
“He’s a good football player,” Childress said. “And not just a good receiver, he’s a good football player. You saw him return some balls, he runs it down and covers on the kick team, he’s a very good gunner. It’s hard to play out there…you play in that vice out there now, that’s hand-to-hand combat. You saw him do some explosive things…I’m happy for him.”
Tags: Darius Reynaud, Ian Johnson, Kenny Onatolu
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 3 Comments »