Vikings vs. Bills -Takeaways
Offensive Line, Christian Ponder Struggle
On the first play for the Viking starting offense, LT Matt Kalil was beat badly by an inside rush, leading to a Christian Ponder sack. From there, things didn't get much better. The Bills tallied four sacks (2 on Ponder,) and Minnesota's starting quarterback finished 5-12 for 53 yards with a 55.2 QB rating. The offense was 3/16 on third-downs, and Ponder's longest pass was a 25-yard floater to his security blanket, Kyle Rudolph. Ponder seemed uncomfortable in the pocket and held onto the ball a fraction too long multiple times, leading to pressure and sacks. In next week's matchup with the Niners, Ponder will have to show more command from the pocket and less of a penchant for running when plays break down.
Xavier Rhodes Flashes
Reports out of training camp have been mixed on rookie Xavier Rhodes; he missed the first preseason game due to injury and has not done enough to crack the starting lineup. However, Peter King reported on MMQB.si.com that Rhodes projects to be the starting left corner opposite Chris Cook. On Friday night, he flashed his physical style of play, tipping a pass from Kolb to Marquise Goodwin that was intercepted by Jamarca Sanford. On the play, he jammed Goodwin at the line and was blanketed the receiver when the ball was thrown. Perfect coverage and a (hopeful) idea of what the future has in store for Rhodes.
Desmond Bishop's Long Journey
Desmond Bishop signed a $1 million, 1-year contract with the Vikings this offseason, and many analysts assumed he'd compete for/win the MLB job. Erin Henderson has firmly cemented his grasp on the position, and Bishop is struggling to shine after sitting out practice and the first preseason game with a groin injury. Tonight, he got his chance. In work mostly against the third-stringers, Bishop recorded 4 tackles and half a sack, flashing the ability Vikings fans hoped he'd regain after a major hamstring injury. Linebacker is still a question mark for the young Viking defense, and Bishop's presence and eventual mastery of the scheme may alleviate those fears.