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Vikings Beat Titans, Go Undefeated in Preseason

The Minnesota Vikings put forth a strong defensive effort and Christian Ponder, Joe Banyard and Blair Walsh supplied the offense in a 19-3 thumping of the Tennessee Titans at LP Field in Nashville.

Very few starters played on offense, with Teddy Bridgewater starting alongside Banyard, the fourth-string running back.None of the starting offensive linemen played. Both Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings were listed as inactive.

On defense, it was a different story. Jasper Brinkley started at middle linebacker, with his competitor Audie Cole playing at weakside linebacker.  Anthony Barr was rested, with Mike Zimmer starting at the other linebacker position.

The real story of the night, though, was Joe Banyard.

Banyard had what you might call a breakout game on Thursday night. He had 18 carries for 111 yards, and should have had a touchdown but dropped a pass from Christian Ponder.  His field vision looked especially good, as Banyard’s reads reminded us a little bit of Adrian Peterson.

The 2014 season will be Banyard’s third in the National Football League. The 25-year-old spent most of last season on the Vikings’ practice squad. He appeared in a couple games in December after the special teams corps became riddled with injuries.

Banyard really doesn’t have a chance of making the roster, as it’s pretty evident that Matt Asiata will make the roster. Jerick McKinnon, who the team drafted in the fourth round this year, should be the third down back.

The Viking defense applied consistent pressure to whoever the Titans quarterback was all night long. Corey Wooton highlighted with a strip-sack, and Justin Trattou also had a sack that was aided by a diving Audie Cole. The defense consistently made the Titans go 3-and-out; Tennessee didn’t score until a field goal in the fourth quarter.

Christian Ponder played surprisingly well after an abysmal training camp. Playing for a roster spot, he completed 12/15 passes for 121 yards. Ponder had a couple of nice completions to undrafted free agent Donte Foster.

Blair Walsh silenced the haters tonight, going 4/4 in field goals with a long of 45 yards. He’s made his last 7 field goals after performing poorly in the first two preseason games.

As for injuries, Adam Thielen hurt his hip in the second quarter and did not return. Zach Line also left with an ankle injury.

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