The Vikings’ quarterback pecking order is set with Kirk Cousins, Trevor Siemian and Kyle Sloter, according to coach Mike Zimmer. But Sloter, the former college receiver in his third season playing quarterback, is looking to show even more improvement in Thursday night’s preseason finale in Nashville after leading the game-winning drive against the Seahawks.
“There are definitely things that I can do better,” Sloter said. “I’m not happy with some of the things and the setbacks on me. I could have done better with those. The overall outcome of the game is awesome.”
Sloter, 24, is building a track record of playmaking preseasons after he was a 2017 standout for the Broncos, leading to the Vikings’ aggressive push to add him to last year’s practice squad. Now he’s all but a lock to be the No. 3 quarterback on the 53-man roster this season after completing 30 of 41 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns (one rushing) in three preseason games.
“When he goes in, he makes plays,” Zimmer said. “That’s pretty much it.”
Jones to make debut
Four days after trading for versatile interior lineman Brett Jones, the Vikings are likely to start him against the Titans. Whether he can earn the starting center job by Sept. 9 against the 49ers, as Pat Elflein’s status remains uncertain, comes down to a lot more than snapping, says co-offensive line coach Clancy Barone.
“Another is the coordination, getting everybody else the right way and targeting the right guys whether run or pass,” Barone said. “Knowing all the audibles, knowing various snap counts and things like that. So there’s a lot more to it than just snapping the football.”
Iloka’s roles growing
Another recent acquisition, safety George Iloka, will make an appearance Thursday. Less than two weeks into his Vikings tenure, Iloka has already immersed himself in special teams and various defensive spots. The veteran practiced this week in more of a hybrid slot defender role as the Vikings worked on a three-safety defense.
“It’s a little different, but I think the thing that helped me out is I always pride myself on trying to learn what everybody around me has,” Iloka said. “It’s not foreign language. It’s more like English 102 instead of 101.”
‘One more chance’
Most of the Vikings’ 53 roster spots have been decided ahead of Saturday’s deadline to make cuts. But players can still make strong final impressions Thursday night to earn a job, aided by the NFL doing away last year with the previous cutdown deadline that had forced teams to trim to 75 players by this point.
“It’s great for the young guys to get one more chance,” Zimmer said. “There have been several guys that have played good in this game that have ended up making the team because of how they play in this particular ballgame.”