BUFFALO – One bright spot in Thursday's preseason opener came from rookie seventh-round receiver Stacy Coley, who made the Vikings’ two biggest plays of the night on offense.
Coley, drafted 219th overall out of Miami, sped past multiple Bills defenders to turn a shallow catch into a 38-yard gain. He later rebounded from a miscommunication with quarterback Case Keenum, who expected Coley on a go route, but the receiver instead cut inside. After halftime, Coley made a 24-yard downfield grab to set up C.J. Ham’s touchdown run in the third quarter.
“It was all on me,” Coley said of the miscommunication. “I feel like I did great. I just have to keep learning.”
Coley, who had 67 yards on three catches, also returned one punt for 8 yards.
An uneven night from Vikings specialists might not have done much to clear up competitions.
Cornerback Marcus Sherels, the veteran punt returner, had the night off on special teams, so rookie Rodney Adams fielded both kickoffs and punts to mixed results.
Adams muffed one punt, saved by teammate Jack Tocho, and drew an illegal hit on another. Adams returned three kickoffs for gains of 19, 19 and 27 yards.
Punter Taylor Symmank impressed with a 60-yard punt that rolled to the Bills 6-yard line on his first attempt. But his inconsistency showed on ensuing punts of 31, 46 and 49 yards. Veteran punter Ryan Quigley pinned Buffalo at its own 7-yard line with a 31-yard punt.
“We flipped the field position quite a few times,” Zimmer said. “We did a good job covering.”
Edmond Robinson was the first player to take Chad Greenway’s spot at weak-side linebacker, getting the start against the Bills. Robinson, entering his third NFL season, made an impressive leaping deflection on a Taylor pass at the end of the first quarter. He finished with four tackles.
“I’d like to have a couple plays back,” Robinson said. “But as far as getting my feet wet, I thought I did a solid job.”
Undrafted linebacker Eric Wilson put on a strong display by leading all defenders with seven tackles. The rookie also chipped in two pass deflections.
Sankey needs MRI
Running back Bishop Sankey needed two Vikings athletic trainers to help him limp off the field after injuring his right knee. He needed crutches and a bulky knee brace to move around in the locker room.
Sankey, who gained 14 yards on four carries, said he’ll undergo an MRI on Friday morning after injuring his right knee on a 14-yard burst he bounced toward the right sideline. The Vikings were already without injured running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon.
Seven sit out
The Vikings did not suit up seven players in Murray (ankle), tackle Riley Reiff (back), McKinnon (undisclosed), receiver Laquon Treadwell (leg), linebacker Kentrell Brothers (hamstring), defensive end Brian Robison (undisclosed) and cornerback Jabari Price (undisclosed).