ARLINGTON, TEXAS – In the days leading to Saturday night's preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, Teddy Bridgewater was asked about his chemistry with new wide receiver Mike Wallace, who had been having a quiet preseason at that point.
"We're getting on the same page," the Vikings quarterback said Thursday, and it showed for the first time in a game midway through the first quarter of Saturday's 28-14 victory over Dallas.
With a defender bearing down on him, Bridgewater launched a perfectly-placed deep ball down the right sideline to Wallace, who had a step on Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr. Wallace tapped two feet down to complete the 39-yard reception.
The big pass play moved the Vikings into the red zone, but the Cowboys held them to a field goal.
While the Vikings weren't worried about Wallace's lack of an impact in their first three preseason games, they did make a point to try to get Wallace involved Saturday.
"We kind of went into the game trying to get him a couple catches tonight and see what happens," coach Mike Zimmer said.
Wallace, who finished the game with 50 receiving yards on three catches, didn't seem to think the big pass play was a big deal.
"It's preseason, man. It's preseason, man," he said. "We'll take it. It's a good way to get it started. But the season hasn't even started yet, so it's cool."
Punting in a pinch
When punter Jeff Locke was briefly knocked out of the game because of an ankle injury, the Vikings had to call on kicker Blair Walsh for one punt. Walsh boomed the punt 50 yards, but Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley returned it 40 yards to set up a Dallas touchdown.
"I thought it was a pretty good punt," Walsh said when asked if he outkicked his coverage. "But if they want to be critical, 'Suuuuure' is what I have to say."
Locke returned to the game moments later to hold for Walsh's 45-yard field goal and resumed his punting duties the rest of the way.
Walsh, meanwhile, continued to struggle at his natural position. He made his first two field-goal tries — from 28 and 45 yards — but he missed a 43-yard try early in the fourth quarter.
Walsh has missed five of his nine field-goal attempts this preseason, but he believes he is close to being back on track. Zimmer, meanwhile, said he no longer is concerned about his highly-paid kicker.
"I told him after he missed the one, 'Quit thinking so much and just kick the dang ball,'" Zimmer said. "These kickers want to fade it to the right. Bubba Watson."
As expected, third-year linebacker Gerald Hodges got the start at middle linebacker and manned the middle of the base defense for the Vikings for most of the first half.
Hodges tallied a team-high four tackles, one for a loss, in the first start at middle linebacker of his lifetime.
"I felt natural at the position," Hodges said. "So I'm just going to continue to work, continue to get better and continue to go out there and play."
Rookie Eric Kendricks lined up with the first-team defense in sub packages and also had four tackles.
The usual precaution
The vast majority of Vikings starters played into the second quarter against the Cowboys, but one notable exception was Adrian Peterson. As expected, the running back and Texas native was held out of Saturday's exhibition in his home state.
Also sitting out were center John Sullivan, offensive tackle Carter Bykowski, tight end MyCole Pruitt, nose tackle Shamar Stephen and cornerback Josh Robinson.
Cuts are coming
Saturday night's game will be the last with the Vikings for 14 players. The team must trim its roster to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon. After playing the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night, the Vikings will have to cut the roster to 53.
"We're looking for a lot of improvement, especially out of the young guys, and a lot of roster spots are up for grabs," coach Mike Zimmer said last week.