ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell was showcased early in the first half of the Vikings’ 27-23 loss Thursday night to Buffalo, a preseason finale that leaves the receiver with an uncertain future in Minnesota.
Treadwell, 24, started for the Vikings and caught quarterback Kyle Sloter’s first pass for a 14-yard gain. He turned two of his three catches into first downs for 30 yards.
“I’m not worried, like the Lion King — Hakuna Matata,” Treadwell said. “Honestly, I don’t [worry]. I just go out there and continue to win. That’s my mind-set.”
The Vikings declined Treadwell’s pricey fifth-year option this spring, making him a free agent next year. He could be looking for work sooner, as coach Mike Zimmer has admitted the team tried to showcase him this preseason in apparent trade effort.
Vikings brass will mull whether to keep Treadwell in the next two days, according to Zimmer, before Saturday’s 3 p.m. deadline to trim the roster to 53 players.
“It looked like he did well,” Zimmer said. “Last couple games he’s gotten opportunities to make plays and he’s made them.”
Roster spot locked up?
Receiver Olabisi Johnson was one of four Vikings rookies who didn’t play Thursday, perhaps foretelling security in the seventh-round pick’s roster spot after he caught five passes for 87 yards and a touchdown in three exhibitions.
Johnson, drafted 247th overall out of Colorado State, has likely locked up the No. 4 job in the receiver pecking order. In addition to being a quick study on offense, he has shown prowess on special teams
Starters and notable reserves, including receiver Chad Beebe, defensive end Stephen Weatherly, safety Jayron Kearse and quarterback Sean Mannion, made up the 36 players who did not suit up for the Vikings.
Effort worthy of a job
Running back Mike Boone’s all-out sprint in the first quarter may have been worthy of a job by itself. The second-year running back saw Sloter get drilled by Bills linebacker Tyrel Dodson, forcing a fumble and setting up a scoop and run for linebacker Deon Lacey.
Nearly 60 yards downfield, Boone caught Lacey from behind to stop the would-be touchdown. But officials ultimately deemed Sloter threw an incomplete pass. Still, Boone should get props in the team meeting room for that play.
Boone, who started for the Vikings, added six carries for 19 yards.
“I liked how he chased that guy down,” Zimmer said. “He did really well.”
Johnson, Holmes start
Zimmer started two key rotational defensive tackles — Jaleel Johnson and Jalyn Holmes — and played them into the second half. Both have been the first replacements for starters Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen throughout the offseason, but clearly coaches felt they needed more work.
• Rookie Marcus Epps, a sixth-round pick out of Wyoming, saw work at safety and nickel cornerback in his final push for a Vikings roster spot.
• Two key Vikings reserves — tight end Tyler Conklin and linebacker Eric Wilson — suited up but did not play.
• Vikings tight end Brandon Dillon exited in the fourth quarter after taking an illegal hit to the head.