It certainly wasn’t ideal situation the Vikings to finish Friday’s 12-10 preseason loss to the Chargers with starting safeties Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford still on the field. But it was by necessity.
In pre-game warm-ups, Mistral Raymond had suffered a back injury. Then in the second half, Eric Frampton strained his groin and Andrew Sendejo suffered an ankle sprain. The only other remaining safety that could have played late Friday was rookie Robert Blanton, who is still working back from his own hamstring injury and was held out against San Diego with the Vikings planning to use him extensively in the preseason finale next Thursday in Houston.
But who else will be patrolling the back of the secondary against the Texans? It’s highly unlikely either Smith or Sanford – or any other legitimate starter – will play in that contest. Which means head coach Leslie Frazier may have to get creative with his lineup combinations. Or the Vikings may have to find an additional body or two somewhere else to finish the preseason with enough safety depth to survive.
It’s uncertain whether Frampton or Sendejo will have enough recovery time to be ready for a Thursday night game. And while the Vikings were relieved Raymond’s back problems were the result of spasms and nothing more, he won’t likely play against Houston either.
Fifteen players cut
The deadline for the Vikings to cut their roster from 90 players to 75 won’t come until Monday afternoon. But the Vikings felt no need to procrastinate, waiving 15 players Saturday. That included a quartet of wide receivers in Kerry Taylor, Bryan Walters, A.J. Love and Kamar Jorden. The others let go were linebackers Solomon Elimimian and Tyler Nielsen, running back Derrick Coleman, guards Bridger Buche and Grant Cook, cornerbacks Chris Stroud and Corey Gatewood, defensive ends Anthony Jacobs and Ernest Owusu, defensive tackle Tydreke Powell and offensive tackle Levi Horn.
Rookie tight end Rhett Ellison left Friday’s game with a knee injury. But after undergoing an MRI and additional tests after the game, the Vikings determined Ellison was suffering from a mild case of patellar tendonitis. The setback is minor and shouldn’t force him to miss much time.Other players injured Friday included cornerbacks Marcus Sherels (sprained ankle) and Josh Robinson (concussion).
After what had been a pretty clean preseason, the Vikings committed four turnovers and had six penalties in Friday’s loss. The most costly flags came against Zack Bowman and Harrison Smith, a pair of players typically lauded for their intelligence. Bowman was called for holding on a second-quarter kickoff return that negated what would have been a 68-yard Sherels return.
Smith’s unnecessary roughness penalty, meanwhile, kept the Chargers game-winning field goal drive alive. On a Chargers third-and-10 play from their own 20 with 1:40 left, Smith left his feet and launched himself into San Diego receiver Mike Willie on what would have been an incomplete pass. The first down gave the Chargers new life and six snaps later Nick Novak booted the game-winning 45-yard field goal.