Preseason message to young Vikings: ‘You have to smell the roses’
For players trying to make the team, Sunday’s preseason opener against the Raiders in Las Vegas will be big
Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips still remembers walking out of the tunnel for the first time as an NFL player. He was a rookie with the Buffalo Bills at the time, and it came ahead of a preseason game with the Carolina Panthers.
“That was a surreal moment,” Phillips said. “I had watery eyes, and I hope a lot of the young guys have that same experience.”
While some Vikings veterans might not be looking forward to Sunday’s preseason game at Las Vegas, Phillips, 26, is excited to see some of the young Vikings hopefuls in action.
“Man, I love the preseason,” Phillips said with a smile. “It’s a harsh pill to swallow, but we’ve got 90 players on this team, and a handful of them won’t ever get another opportunity.”
That’s his message as the Vikings head into the matchup with the Raiders: This isn’t something to be taken for granted.
“To go into an NFL stadium and play in a preseason game might be the highest level of achievement that (some of these guys) have in their football career,” Phillips said. “I absolutely love seeing any type of big play and celebrating. I’m all about it. I want them to be as extra as they can. You have to smell the roses.”
As for what to expect from the Vikings in their preseason opener, it’s safe to assume there won’t be any trick plays.
“It will be very basic,” offensive coordinator Wes Phillips said with a smile. “Don’t evaluate us off this one.”
That said, there will be some intrigue with Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond getting a 50-50 split at quarterback. Though it would appear Mannion leads the race for the No. 2 spot behind Kirk Cousins, Phillips doesn’t want him to rest on his laurels this weekend.
“You don’t really get credit for experience; you get credit for performance,” Phillips said. “We’re just going to let these guys go out there and compete and evaluate each play as it comes.”
It seems like only a matter of time before rookie safety Lewis Cine starts getting consistent reps with the starters. In the meantime, he’s trying to soak up as much information as possible.
“I’m still learning,” Cine said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Plus, even if Cine isn’t running with the starters in the Sep. 11 season opener against the Green Bay Packers, he’s confident he will make an impact whenever he gets in the game.
“I know there’s a place for me on the defense,” he said. “I know I’m going to contribute somewhere.”
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