At least the kicker didn't miss.

In an otherwise utterly awful Vikings preseason opener, journeyman Greg Joseph didn't add to coach Mike Zimmer's considerable postgame angst. He nailed field goals from 34 and 25 yards as the Vikings — sans 21 starters and 31 players overall — were thumped by the Broncos 33-6 at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday.

Unfortunately for Zimmer's blood pressure, the news wasn't all good on special teams. Trying to resurrect one of the league's worst units under new coordinator Ryan Ficken, the Vikings gave up a 62-yard kickoff return, struggled per usual in the return games and lost promising rookie fourth-round draft pick Kene Nwangwu to a knee injury after a game-opening 18-yard kickoff return.

Even veteran punter Britton Colquitt drew Zimmer's ire with duds of 35 and 36 yards, and an ugly 44-yarder that had a fortunate roll.

"Three very poor punts," Zimmer said of Colquitt's four attempts, which also included a 48-yarder.

Asked if it was just a bad day for Colquitt or reason for concern, Zimmer essentially put Colquitt's employment status on notice.

"It's cause for concern," Zimmer said.

K.J. Osborn and rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette each returned two kickoffs. Osborn had returns of 20 and 31 yards, the latter of which came 6 yards deep in the end zone and didn't reach the 25. Smith-Marsette had an ugly 12-yard return in which he slipped, and a decent 30-yarder to the 32.

Veteran Ameer Abdullah had the only punt return, a 6-yarder reminiscent of last year's weak returns. He also had a fair catch.

Joseph, with his sixth team in four years, has played only 16 NFL games, none since 2019, and his only field goal attempts came in 2018 when he made 17 of 20 for Cleveland.

Undrafted rookie kicker Riley Patterson did not play.

Mond needs to 'get moving'

Third-round draft pick Kellen Mond played like a rookie quarterback who missed 10 days of practice with COVID-19 and was in just his third day in pads since the Senior Bowl.

"He was OK," Zimmer said. "He used his legs a couple of times. He just has to get moving a little quicker. Everything is like in slow motion with him."

Mond replaced starter Jake Browning and completed only six of 16 passes for 53 yards and a 47.1 passer rating. He also ran five times for 25 yards.

Mond led the Vikings to both field goals. At the end of the first half, he ran for 8 yards on second-and-6 from the Denver 14.

The Vikings had a timeout left but didn't use it. It took Mond and the offense 24 seconds to get lined up. That left time for only two hurried throws before settling for the field goal.

"I think I heard a play in the huddle, and we ended up changing it," said Mond, adding that it's the coaching staff's decision to call a timeout there.

Mond also said getting everyone lined up "is one, on me, but our whole entire offense has to understand we have to get lined up quicker."

Zimmer sits 21 starters

Zimmer sat every current starter on the roster except defensive end Stephen Weatherly. Weatherly jumped offsides on an incompletion on third-and-4. Later, another veteran, Jalyn Holmes, lined up offsides on third-and-2.

Included in the 31 Vikings who sat out were the top three defensive tackles, top three cornerbacks, three of the top four receivers, the top two left tackles, top two running backs and top two tight ends.

Rose doesn't wilt

Nwangwu's injury put undrafted rookie running back A.J. Rose Jr. in a showcase position. With Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison being held out, and the seven-year veteran Abdullah as the only other healthy running back, Rose got 26 touches.

He had 25 carries for 100 yards. He also caught one pass for a team-leading 18 yards.

"I didn't see the 25 carries coming," Rose said. "The opportunity presented itself and you have to make the most of it. I believe I made plays when my number was called."

As for Nwangwu, Zimmer said he doesn't expect the injury to be serious.

Also injured was linebacker Cam Smith, who suffered a concussion early in the second quarter and didn't return. Smith started and had one tackle in his first live action since open-heart surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve defect last August.

Teddy gets loudest cheer

It's not saying much, but the loudest cheer of the day came when former Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater entered the game early in the second quarter.

Bridgewater, locked in a battle for the starting position with Drew Lock, completed seven of eight passes for 74 yards, one touchdown, no picks and a 144.8 passer rating. Lock completed five of seven passes for 151 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 153.3 rating.