Notebook: Two gamers for the roster battles

The Vikings had two defenders stand out besides Marcus Sherels' play. Defensive end Adrian Awasom was all over the place, as was cornerback Tony Carter. Meanwhile, see how the offense was shorthanded and get other notes from Saturday's win.

Marcus Sherels stole the headlines with his 64-yard interception return for a touchdown, but he was hardly the only backup making a necessary positive impression 10 days in advance of the first roster cutdown.

Sherels' touchdown was certainly the flashiest play of the game, but another fringe roster defender may have found his place on the team with an impressive performance.

Defensive end Adrian Awasom was looking like a strong candidate for the 53-man roster before Saturday night, but he only improved his chances with his pesky play against the Seahawks. First, he was a key cog in the team's impressive goal-line stand, when Seattle's Justin Forsett was held to one yard on four carries on the doorstep of the end zone. Awasom made the third-down stop during that series.

"That goal-line stand by our defense was terrific. It was a great job by them being on the road, hostile environment, in that situation," head coach Leslie Frazier said.

But the Arena League acquisition was the biggest pest of the evening. In the preseason opener, the Vikings defense had three quarterback hurries. On Saturday night, Awasom blew past that total on his own, much like he beat his blocker consistently on his way to four of the team's 10 quarterback hurries. Three of those came in the first half against Tarvaris Jackson, but the defensive end continued to work through the final series of the game. He harassed third-string quarterback Josh Portis, pressuring him once on the final series before getting the Vikings' only sack of the game on the final play of the game.

Awasom also showed his versatility when he jumped to bat down a pass at the line of scrimmage after swinging inside on a stunt with the defensive tackle.

A CASE FOR CARTER

Another non-starter to stand out was the team's latest acquisition, cornerback Tony Carter. He had a team-high three passes defensed, nearly half of the team's eight for the game. One of those came in the first series of the second half, and on the next series Carter dropped receiver Kris Durham for a 2-yard loss when he sniffed out a smoke screen.

He had a hand in the start and finish of Seattle's next possession, as well. It began when Carter dropped punt return Richard Sherman as soon as he fielded a punt, and that drive ended when Carter knocked away a fourth-down pass.

SHAKY START

The Vikings gave up only one sack, but it came early. On their second offensive snap, tight end Kyle Rudolph went on a pass pattern and left tackle Charlie Johnson blocked down inside instead of picking up defensive end Raheem Brock, who sprinted unblocked and leveled QB Donovan McNabb.

"You don't want guys running free on your quarterback in our league. We've got to go back and look at that and just figure out why that happened, but you don't that," Frazier said.

Johnson settled in after that, as did McNabb. The quarterback completed 6 of 8 passes for 81 yards and a 106.8 rating. That first-series sack was the only one taken by the Vikings' quarterbacks.

SHORTHANDED OFFENSE

While the Vikings ramped up the playing time for their starters as the preseason progresses, they were without three likely starters – WR Percy Harvin, TE Visanthe Shiancoe and G Anthony Herrera.

None of those scratches for Saturday night's game in Seattle were unexpected. Harvin was dealing with a rib/abdominal injury that kept him out of practice for most of last week and Shiancoe didn't practice at all last week because of a hamstring injury. Herrera, the incumbent starter at right guard who is facing competition for that spot, began working with the first-team offense on a limited basis this week but shared time there with Scott Kooistra, who made the start at right guard Saturday. Herrera continues his comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered on Nov. 21.

Other players not in the lineup against Seattle were CB Asher Allen (toe), S Simeon Castille (hamstring), FB Asiata (hip flexor), LBs Heath Farwell (hamstring) and Kenny Onatolu (foot), WR Greg Camarillo (groin) and DE D'Aundre Reed (calf).

NOTES

  • CB Cedric Griffin got his first action since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last year, starting the game but going only one series. "Once we finished practice on Thursday, he felt comfortable and we wanted to give him a chance to get his feet wet," Frazier said. "We'll get him a little bit more in this next ballgame as well."

  • Rookie safety Mistral Raymond saw his first action and had a pass defensed and a tackle, but he may have been the victim on the Seahawks' only touchdown of the game, a 3-yard pass to Anthony McCoy in the back of the end zone.

  • What might have been? Although the Vikings had control of the game early, they might have put it away sooner if not for their turnovers. While the quarterbacks avoided interceptions, the Vikings had four fumbles, losing two of them. Sherels lost a fumble on a punt return and Emmanuel Arceneaux had the ball punch out of his grasp from behind as he approached the goal line. When it sailed through the end zone, Seattle took over on the touchback. Joe Webb also fumbled , as did Lorenzo Booker for the second straight game. Webb recovered his own fumble and Booker's went out of bounds.

  • RB Tristan Davis' only carry of the preseason so far is a 35-yard touchdown run.

  • TE Kyle Rudolph continues to impress. He was targeted a team-high four times, and his three receptions was a team high. His first catch was the best, as he snagged a McNabb pass that was behind him on a 17-yard gain.

  • On the injury front, LB Mark Washington suffered a shoulder injury while covering a kickoff. CB Brandon Burton "is fine," according to Frazier and the Vikings were waiting on more information on LB Ross Homan's injury.

  • Frazier was pleased to see the tackling improve in the second game after numerous misses early in the preseason opener.

  • Both teams converted 42 percent of their third downs.

  • The Seahawks ran 81 offensive plays, compared to the Vikings' 56. The Vikings gained an average of 6.2 yards per play while the Seahawks were limited to 3.6.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



  • Viking Update Top Stories

    \r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Marcus Sherels stole the headlines with his 64-yard interception return for a touchdown, but he was hardly the only backup making a necessary positive impression 10 days in advance of the first roster cutdown. Sherels' touchdown was certainly the flashiest play of the game, but another fringe roster defender may have found his place on the team with an impressive performance. Defensive end Adrian Awasom was looking like a strong candidate for the 53-man roster before Saturday night, but he only improved his chances with his pesky play against the Seahawks. First, he was a key cog in the team's impressive goal-line stand, when Seattle's Justin Forsett was held to one yard on four carries on the doorstep of the end zone. Awasom made the third-down stop during that series. \"That goal-line stand by our defense was terrific. It was a great job by them being on the road, hostile environment, in that situation,\" head coach Leslie Frazier said. But the Arena League acquisition was the biggest pest of the evening. In the preseason opener, the Vikings defense had three quarterback hurries. On Saturday night, Awasom blew past that total on his own, much like he beat his blocker consistently on his way to four of the team's 10 quarterback hurries. Three of those came in the first half against Tarvaris Jackson, but the defensive end continued to work through the final series of the game. He harassed third-string quarterback Josh Portis, pressuring him once on the final series before getting the Vikings' only sack of the game on the final play of the game. Awasom also showed his versatility when he jumped to bat down a pass at the line of scrimmage after swinging inside on a stunt with the defensive tackle. Another non-starter to stand out was the team's latest acquisition, cornerback Tony Carter. He had a team-high three passes defensed, nearly half of the team's eight for the game. One of those came in the first series of the second half, and on the next series Carter dropped receiver Kris Durham for a 2-yard loss when he sniffed out a smoke screen. He had a hand in the start and finish of Seattle's next possession, as well. It began when Carter dropped punt return Richard Sherman as soon as he fielded a punt, and that drive ended when Carter knocked away a fourth-down pass. The Vikings gave up only one sack, but it came early. On their second offensive snap, tight end Kyle Rudolph went on a pass pattern and left tackle Charlie Johnson blocked down inside instead of picking up defensive end Raheem Brock, who sprinted unblocked and leveled QB Donovan McNabb. \"You don't want guys running free on your quarterback in our league. We've got to go back and look at that and just figure out why that happened, but you don't that,\" Frazier said. Johnson settled in after that, as did McNabb. The quarterback completed 6 of 8 passes for 81 yards and a 106.8 rating. That first-series sack was the only one taken by the Vikings' quarterbacks. While the Vikings ramped up the playing time for their starters as the preseason progresses, they were without three likely starters – WR Percy Harvin, TE Visanthe Shiancoe and G Anthony Herrera. None of those scratches for Saturday night's game in Seattle were unexpected. Harvin was dealing with a rib/abdominal injury that kept him out of practice for most of last week and Shiancoe didn't practice at all last week because of a hamstring injury. Herrera, the incumbent starter at right guard who is facing competition for that spot, began working with the first-team offense on a limited basis this week but shared time there with Scott Kooistra, who made the start at right guard Saturday. Herrera continues his comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered on Nov. 21. Other players not in the lineup against Seattle were CB Asher Allen (toe), S Simeon Castille (hamstring), FB Asiata (hip flexor), LBs Heath Farwell (hamstring) and Kenny Onatolu (foot), WR Greg Camarillo (groin) and DE D'Aundre Reed (calf).
  • CB Cedric Griffin got his first action since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last year, starting the game but going only one series. \"Once we finished practice on Thursday, he felt comfortable and we wanted to give him a chance to get his feet wet,\" Frazier said. \"We'll get him a little bit more in this next ballgame as well.\"
  • Rookie safety Mistral Raymond saw his first action and had a pass defensed and a tackle, but he may have been the victim on the Seahawks' only touchdown of the game, a 3-yard pass to Anthony McCoy in the back of the end zone.
  • What might have been? Although the Vikings had control of the game early, they might have put it away sooner if not for their turnovers. While the quarterbacks avoided interceptions, the Vikings had four fumbles, losing two of them. Sherels lost a fumble on a punt return and Emmanuel Arceneaux had the ball punch out of his grasp from behind as he approached the goal line. When it sailed through the end zone, Seattle took over on the touchback. Joe Webb also fumbled , as did Lorenzo Booker for the second straight game. Webb recovered his own fumble and Booker's went out of bounds.
  • RB Tristan Davis' only carry of the preseason so far is a 35-yard touchdown run.
  • TE Kyle Rudolph continues to impress. He was targeted a team-high four times, and his three receptions was a team high. His first catch was the best, as he snagged a McNabb pass that was behind him on a 17-yard gain.
  • On the injury front, LB Mark Washington suffered a shoulder injury while covering a kickoff. CB Brandon Burton \"is fine,\" according to Frazier and the Vikings were waiting on more information on LB Ross Homan's injury.
  • Frazier was pleased to see the tackling improve in the second game after numerous misses early in the preseason opener.
  • Both teams converted 42 percent of their third downs.
  • The Seahawks ran 81 offensive plays, compared to the Vikings' 56. The Vikings gained an average of 6.2 yards per play while the Seahawks were limited to 3.6.
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