For a relatively unknown, undrafted free agent trying to make an NFL roster, fullback Zach Line has gained a fairly high profile.
And it got a little higher in the Vikings’ preseason-opening loss to Houston on Friday in Mall of America Field. Line’s quest to win a job with the Vikings is being chronicled by Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback,” which has pledged that reporter Jenny Vrentas will follow Line’s journey no matter where it goes, even if it ends up out of football.
On Friday, Line helped himself a little bit.
The score was 3-3 early in the second quarter when, on second-and-5 from the Vikings 39, Matt Cassel threw a swing pass to Line. It was his first NFL touch. He caught it, made Houston safety D.J. Swearinger miss, followed some strong lead blocking and was off down the sideline, breaking tackles en route to a 61-yard scoring play.
“It was just a perfect play,” said Line, a native of Michigan who went to Southern Methodist. “Definitely one of those plays you want to make in a game.”
Vrentas was in the stands with Line’s parents, his fiancée and about 30 members of her family, who live in Clear Lake, Iowa. After the play Vrentas tweeted that Line’s mom cried and his dad called it a top-six moment in his life, right after the births of his five kids.
The Vikings announced that Joey Browner would become the 21st player on the team’s Ring of Honor.
Browner, one of the best safeties in Vikings history, played from 1983 to ’91. He will be inducted during halftime of the Vikings’ game with Green Bay on Oct. 27.
“I want to thank the Vikings organization, the Wilf family and all the people who supported the Vikings here in Minnesota,” said Browner, 53. “The Ring of Honor is something that is very special.’’
Known as an aggressive player and a sure tackler, Browner posted 1,098 career combined tackles, fifth in team history. He had 18 forced fumbles and 9.5 sacks in his 138-game career. His 37 interceptions are fourth in team history.
Browner went to six consecutive Pro Bowls starting in 1985. He was also named All-Pro three times and was a member of the 50 Greatest Vikings team.
Room for improvement
Rookie punter Jeff Locke had an up-and-down night. He averaged 39.2 yards on five punts, but just a 32.4-yard net. The first two, which came on short fields, resulted in fair catches, the first at the Houston 10, the second at the 7. He later hit a 48-yard punt. But his fourth punt was a low, 39-yarder that set up a big return. His final kick was a little better, but Locke didn’t like the placement.
“I didn’t finish the way I wanted to,” he said. “So I’ll go back and look at the film and kind of see what happened.”
Floyd ‘should be fine’
The Vikings emerged from Friday’s loss with no significant injury setbacks. The tensest moment came in the second quarter when rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd hit the ground in pain, clutching at his left leg. After being looked at by trainers on the field, Floyd jogged to the sideline.
Said coach Leslie Frazier: “He should be fine. We could have put him back in the game but just decided because of where we are at this time of year we wouldn’t do it.”
Floyd finished with a tackle for loss. He also knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage.
• Several players were held out of the game because of injuries, including linebacker Desmond Bishop (groin), cornerbacks A.J. Jefferson (hamstring), Jacob Lacey (knee) and Xavier Rhodes (hamstring). Center Joe Berger was gone because of a death in the family. Several starters were held out, including defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison, defensive tackle Kevin Williams, linebacker Chad Greenway and running back Adrian Peterson.
• Joe Webb, transitioning from quarterback to receiver, had two catches for 11 yards.