Rookie running backs lead Vikings past Rams in preseason finale
MINNEAPOLIS -- Never mind Jared Goff's status as the first overall pick in the draft for Los Angeles.
For now, with a lot left to learn, he's the third-stringer.
Goff's first start of the preseason for the Rams featured two turnovers and one touchdown, as the Minnesota reserve running backs led a 27-25 victory by the Vikings on Thursday night.
Playing the whole first half, Goff finished 6 for 16 for 67 yards. Coach Jeff Fisher said he'd lean toward Sean Mannion as the primary backup quarterback behind starter Case Keenum.
"He's made significant progress. He's comfortable. He understands things. He's progressed," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said, preaching patience for Goff: "I think it's going to take a bit more time."
Goff capped the first drive with deft touch on a 1-yard scoring pass to Kenny Britt, but ugliness ensued. The Rams punted on the next four possessions. Then Goff dropped a shotgun snap for a fumble at his 9-yard line, setting up the second field goal for the Vikings by Blair Walsh. A minute later, Justin Trattou tripped Goff's pass at the line and defensive tackle Toby Johnson made a diving interception at the 28.
"I think I'm on the way to where I want to be," Goff said. "I just need to continue making progress."
Jhurell Pressley turned a short throw by Brad Sorensen into a 28-yard touchdown reception on the next play. Pressley also returned a kickoff 106 yards for a score, and C.J. Ham carried 15 times for 59 yards and a touchdown. After each score, the Vikings showed off their new stadium by dimming the lights, blaring Prince's hit "Let's Go Crazy!" and flashing purple and gold bulbs around the ceiling.
With Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata well established as the running backs, there's no room for the undrafted rookies Pressley (New Mexico) or Ham (Division II Augustana in South Dakota). But they each made a strong case for the practice squad or another team.
After losing Teddy Bridgewater for the season to a major knee injury just two days ago, the Vikings kept new starting quarterback Shaun Hill safely on the sideline. Undrafted rookie Joel Stave went 9 for 18 for 76 yards and left with the team called a hand injury. Sorensen took over for the rest of the game, but with Taylor Heinicke still on the non-football injury list Stave might have landed a roster spot.
"I thought he managed the games good. I thought he threw the ball well," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Rob Havenstein started at right tackle for the Rams, after recently returning to practice from a foot injury.
Rams: With the starting defensive linemen resting, DT Morgan Fox took advantage of the extra playing time with two sacks and four QB hurries in the first half. Fox was undrafted out of NCAA Division II school Colorado State-Pueblo.
Vikings: First-round draft pick Laquon Treadwell started at WR but dropped a pair of passes. He was targeted four times but didn't record a reception.
Rams: Rookie WR Paul McRoberts, part of a large bubble at the position behind starters Britt and Tavon Austin and fourth-round draft pick Pharoh Cooper, caught a short TD pass from Sean Mannion midway through the fourth quarter. McRoberts was undrafted out of Southeast Missouri State.
Vikings: Sixth-round draft pick David Morgan, vying for a spot as a fourth TE, recovered a fumble and had two catches for 15 yards as well as an offensive pass interference penalty.
Rams: LB Bryce Hager, who started in place of Alec Ogletree in the middle, limped off the field after Minnesota's second play from scrimmage.
Vikings: CB Jabari Price, a seventh-round draft pick in 2014 on the roster fringe, limped off in the fourth quarter unable to put weight on his right knee.
Rams: Fox, on playing behind the front four of William Hayes, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn: "It has been an incredible honor and privilege to be around that kind of talent."
Vikings: Peterson, on Hill: "Shaun will do a great job for us, and I have confidence in him and what he's able to do."