Vikings notebook: Trattou stating his case

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Justin Trattou had another solid preseason game as he searches for a role on the team in 2015. Plus, get 18 notes that help tell the tale of the Vikings’ 20-12 win.

For the past two seasons, most of the time defensive end Justin Trattou has spent with the Vikings has been on the practice squad. He is a player who has constantly had to fight for his spot on the team.

This year, however, it has been a different story. Trattou has been one of the storylines of training camp and the preseason, consistently making plays and showing that he belongs.

In Saturday’s 20-12 by the Minnesota Vikings over the Oakland Raiders, Trattou stood out in his time on the field, recording a sack and nearly intercepting a pass he batted in the air.

Trattou has scratched and clawed to make a career for himself in the NFL. A member of the New York Giants from 2012-13 and the Vikings the last two seasons, he has played in 16 NFL games in his four-year career and is looking to double that total this season.

Given his improvement, that has become a distinct opportunity because he’s getting the chances to shine this season that he hasn’t in the past.

“The biggest thing is that I’m getting more of an opportunity,” Trattou said. “Last year, I was pretty much just getting the end-of-game reps and I performed pretty well. This year, I’m getting to play but it’s better competition – ones and twos. I’m still doing the same stuff and being productive, but it’s nice to be able to show the coaches that I can do against stronger competition.”

Throughout training camp and the preseason, when the coaches have spoken about the players who have been bright spots, Trattou’s name has come up as one of those players and that has served as motivation to continue climbing the depth chart and trying to get more playing time.

“Things have been really positive,” Trattou said. “I’ve been practicing hard and showing the coaches that I have the passion and the drive to be a good player. I just want to do whatever I can to be part of the line rotation and help this defense be great.”

Trattou has been given no guarantees of playing time, but has continued to do the things that get players noticed and make it harder for coaches to keep them off the field. If they’re willing to give Trattou more playing team, he’s more than happy to accept it.

“I think you get what you earn,” Trattou said. “The coaches are very fair here. Nobody gets reps without earning them during the week. I’ve just got to keep on running with it because I’m earning confidence from my teammates and the coaches and, if I keep doing that, I’ll keep being used more on game day.”

  • With Saturday’s win, Mike Zimmer tied the franchise record as being just the second Vikings head coach to start his career with a 7-0 preseason record. Denny Green did the same in 1992-93.

  • The Vikings were extremely efficient on third downs, converting 9 of 17 (53 percent) while holding Oakland to just 36 percent (5 of 14).

  • The Raiders are known around the NFL for two things – losing and committing penalties. They did both Saturday. The Vikings committed just one penalty for 10 yards the entire game, while Oakland had 13 penalties accepted for 106 yards and another couple of penalties declined.

  • The Raiders got in the red zone three times, but came away with a touchdown on just one of them.

  • Teddy Bridgewater had another efficient game, completing 10 of 14 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, giving him another strong passer rating performance of 111.9.

  • Shaun Hill continued his solid play, completing 11 of 17 passes for 82 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was at his best late in the second quarter, leading the two-minute offense on a 12-play drive that covered 80 yards, including five plays in the final 36 seconds with no timeuts. He completed 9 of 13 passes on the drive (with one incompletion being a spike to stop the clock) and threw a 4-yard touchdown to Charles Johnson with just eight seconds left in the half.

  • Taylor Heinicke did nothing to help his case to make the team. He threw four passes, but didn’t complete any of them.

  • Nine different players caught passes for the Vikings, led by tight end Chase Ford, who was the victim of two personal foul penalties against Raiders players who hit him high, with five catches. Johnson had four catches for a team-high 40 yards and a touchdown.

  • The competition for return spots remains fierce. Marcus Sherels returned a kickoff 49 yards and Stefon Diggs had a 29-yard punt return.

  • Hill missed some time early in training camp with a hand injury and, following his touchdown pass late in the first half, he was getting his throwing hand worked on by the medical staff.

  • The Vikings dominated time of possession in the first quarter, running 22 plays as opposed to just nine for Oakland – giving Minnesota an edge in time of possession of 11:40 to just 3:20 for the Raiders. The Vikings finished the game with a narrow 24-second time of possession edge, as Oakland returned the favor with almost identical numbers in the second half.

  • Amari Cooper showed why the Raiders made him a blue-chip pick in the first quarter, blowing past Terence Newman for a 40-yard reception in the first quarter. The Vikings challenged the play, but lost, costing them a timeout.

  • The Cooper catch led to a Raiders touchdown, the first time the Vikings have trailed all preseason.

  • The Raiders went for two points following their touchdown, but the run attempt failed. Teams appear to be weighing their options this preseason as whether or not to go for two points following touchdowns.

  • The Vikings offensive line was not only without Phil Loadholt Saturday (he was placed on season-ending injured reserve this week), they were also without center John Sullivan, who was among the inactives announced prior to the game. We suffered spasms earlier in the week.

  • There were a lot of reunions with the two teams Saturday. Norv Turner used to be the Raiders head coach from 2004-05. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio played his final four seasons with the Vikings. Bill Musgrave is now the offensive coordinator in Oakland, the same job he held with the Vikings from 2011-13. Former Vikings head coach Mike Tice is the offensive line coach for the Raiders.

  • As happened last season, tonight’s game was the last preseason home game for the Vikings this season. Under the agreement between the Vikings and the University of Minnesota, the Vikings won’t play a home game during the Minnesota State Fair, meaning they play both of their home games in the preseason before the fair opens the last week of August.

  • The announced paid attendance was 50,656.

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