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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota and Jacksonville had the top two defenses in the NFL last season Steve Young Jersey , a major reason why the Vikings and Jaguars reached their respective conference championship games.

Two joint practices and one exhibition game produced yet more evidence of the exceptional skill and sound scheme each team has on that side of the ball.

Yannick Ngakoue had an 11-yard sack that helped Jacksonville hold Kirk Cousins and Minnesota’s starting offense to three completions and three points, before the Jaguars reserves rallied for a 14-10 victory over the Vikings on Saturday.

“The defense got after them pretty good, and their defense got after us pretty good,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “That’s kind of how it looked all week.”

Cousins was crisp in his only series last week , but the Vikings went three-and-out on two of their four possessions with their new quarterback. Latavius Murray’s second fumble, stripped by Malik Jackson and recovered by Calais Campbell, stopped another drive. Cousins finished just 3 for 8 for 12 yards.

“Frankly, I think that’s what we need and maybe want at this time of year,” Cousins said. “Nobody feeling comfortable.”

About all the ever-demanding Zimmer was pleased with was that the Vikings didn’t actually win.

“It kind of looked like we didn’t practice this week, to be honest with you,” he said.

Minnesota’s defense was closer to midseason form, with an interception by Harrison Smith of Blake Bortles and another sure pick by Mackensie Alexander that was bobbled and dropped.

Bortles played the entire first half and went 12 for 20 for 159 yards, producing a touchdown run by Leonard Fournette on one of his seven series, the last of three possessions the Vikings starters were still in the game.

The Vikings, who led the league with the fewest yards and points allowed in 2017 while the Jaguars finished second, gave Bortles trouble during drills in practices on Wednesday and Thursday at Minnesota’s suburban facility.

“We’ve still got some things to fix,” Bortles said.

The Vikings had six sacks , two by Ifeadi Odenigbo. Mike Boone, in a stiff competition for the No. 3 running back spot Kirk Cousins Jersey , had 13 carries for 91 yards and a score .

T.J. Yeldon helped his cause to be Fournette’s backup with five catches for 73 yards and 10 carries for 39 yards. With a 57-yard punt return by Rashad Greene to set up the touchdown just after the two-minute warning, Jacksonville took a late lead on a short run by Brandon Wilds.


The Jaguars were called for 13 penalties for a whopping 140 yards, including 10 infractions in the first half. Ngakoue celebrated his sack with an incendiary hip-thrusting dance, taking one of the 15-yarders.

“Penalties cost you games,” Ngakoue said. “We still were lucky enough to win today, but we’ve got to clean it up.”

Cornerback A.J. Bouye was singled out for the NFL’s new targeting rule, for lowering his helmet on a tackle attempt.

“Both of our heads were lowered,” Bouye said. “I think they should offset, but I’ve just got to learn from it.”

Vikings linebacker Antwione Williams was also flagged for unnecessary roughness, negating a sack of Cody Kessler for driving him into the turf, another point of emphasis this year for officials on the field. Zimmer initially argued, but said afterward he thought the call was correct.


Left tackle Riley Reiff was the only starter from last year suited up on Minnesota’s offensive line, with guards Nick Easton (neck) and Joe Berger (retirement) gone. The new right side, Mike Remmers and Rashod Hill, was held out with ankle injuries. Center Pat Elflein is still recovering from offseason shoulder and ankle surgeries.

The Vikings failed to move the chains on all 12 of their third-down attempts.


The wife (Jeanette), daughter (Ryan) and son (Tony Jr.) of former Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano, who died suddenly last month of heart disease, were honored before the game. The entire Vikings offensive line joined the family at midfield for the coin flip. Tony Sparano Jr. is the assistant offensive line coach for the Jaguars . Sparano’s other son, Andy Mike Daniels Jersey , was unable to attend. Berger blew the ceremonial Gjallarhorn kickoff.


Last week , four Jaguars players remained in the locker room during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Telvin Smith and running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon. Ramsey was not at this game, left at home like Dante Fowler for disciplinary reasons related to the fight at practice last week between Fowler and Ngakoue . Fournette and Yeldon were spotted on the sideline during the anthem, though Smith was not.


Jaguars: Left guard Andrew Norwell, the team’s premier free agent addition, was held out for the second straight game because of a calf injury, as was rookie defensive end Taven Bryan (abdomen). Center Brandon Linder (knee), strong safety Don Carey (hamstring) and left guard Chris Reed (knee) were injured during the game. Reed started for Norwell.

Vikings: Alexander, who’s competing with rookie Mike Hughes to play the slot position in the nickel package, hurt his ankle on his dropped interception. Five other backups were hurt during the game: defensive end Ade Aruna (right knee), guards Josh Andrews (right ankle) and Cedrick Lang (right leg), wide receiver Jeff Badet (head) and fullback Johnny Stanton (left leg). Multiple players will be out for the season, including Lang, Zimmer said.


The Jaguars host Atlanta next Saturday.

The Vikings host Seattle on F

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson sat a few feet away from each other as fresh-faced college players at the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York in late 2005 and never imaged this would happen.

Twelve NFL seasons later for Smith and 11 for Peterson and they’re now in the same backfield together with the Washington Redskins.

The 34-year-old quarterback acquired by trade in February and 33-year-old running back signed off the street during the preseason have each been around the block a few times and now bear the expectations of trying to get Washington back to the playoffs.

“I think the sky’s the limit,” Peterson said. “I feel like we can really be an explosive offense.”

For a team that has embraced continuity, including coach Jay Gruden going into his fifth season Nick Perry Jersey , the turnover from Kirk Cousins and a running game by committee to Smith and Peterson represents a huge shift.

The Redskins believe Smith will better be able to command the offense that includes Peterson, now-healthy tight end Jordan Reed, receivers Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson and third down back Chris Thompson.

From the first day of training camp, Smith has looked the part as the long-term answer at quarterback the way Cousins never did because of his predecessor’s series of one-year deals. It helped that the Redskins signed Smith to a $94 million, four-year extension to make him their man.

Likewise, Peterson took only a couple of days of practice to look as if he passed Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley as the top running back after second-round pick Derrius Guice tore the ACL in his left knee and changed the franchise’s course for this season.

Smith is coming off the best season of his career when he threw for 4,042 yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions with Kansas City. He doesn’t want to label this his so-called “prime,” but Smith appears to be in the midst of it.

“I still feel like my best football is ahead of me certainly,” Smith said. “I still feel like I have been ascending. I still feel like I haven’t reached my potential which pushes me, challenges me to continue to strive to get better. I still feel like I am a young 34-year old and I do have a lot of ball ahead of me.”

Peterson has a lot of tread on the tires as the 12th-leading rusher in NFL history and had his past two seasons cut short by injuries. One workout was enough for Gruden to believe Peterson still had something left, and 11 carries for 56 yards in his preseason debut showed everyone else a glimpse of the 2012 league MVP who ran roughshod in purple for so many years with Minnesota.

“Having him on the team, it’s a joy,” said left tackle Trent Williams, a longtime friend of Peterson’s dating to their time together at Oklahoma. “It’s a dream come true. I’m happy to see him, and I know we’ll open up some lanes for him. So I know he’s going to shine.”

Peterson will occasionally catch younger running backs staring at him in disbelief and is proud he inspired some of them with his career. Smith similarly has the resume to earn immediate respect from teammates, who are ready to line up with him and Peterson to return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2015 season.

“They both are very respected veterans in this league for a reason, for their work ethic and playing abilities Tyeler Davison Jersey ,” Reed said. “We’ve got two great players on our team, and they’re perfect fits for what we need.”

Some things to watch with the Redskins this season:


The run defense and pass rush should be much-improved with second-year lineman Jonathan Allen healthy and the addition of Alabama teammate Daron Payne, the 13th overall pick in the draft. Allen had his rookie season cut short by a foot injury, and Payne didn’t miss a step after injuring his left ankle early in camp.

“He’s a big-time player,” linebacker Mason Foster said of Payne. “Really athletic, has a great grasp with the defense already. Just a physical freak so, playing behind him is going to be great.”


Josh Norman is going into the third year of a $75 million contract with just three interceptions for the Redskins and none last season. His abilities as a cover cornerback are unquestioned and mean he gets fewer opportunities, but Norman also dropped a handful of potential interceptions in 2017 and is being counted on — and paid — to make that kind of a difference in a young secondary.

“It’s just that six inches from making a play to not making a play,” Norman said. “Touching (your) hands, DB rules you got to have it.”


With a combined 804 yards and six touchdowns rushing and receiving, Thompson was Washington’s secret option last season before breaking his fibula in November. Thompson is still trying to overcome the mental hurdle about making cuts on his right leg, but just being on the field is a plus.

“Chris Thompson is a key asset to our offense,” linebacker Preston Smith said. “He’s a great (running) back, he brings a lot of different tools to the offense.”


The Redskins are 0-4 in season openers under Gruden, who was also criticized for their performance in a potential win-and-get-in game against the New York Giants who had nothing to play for in Week 17 in 2016. Gruden played it safe in the preseason by resting players coming off injuries to avoid a similar problem to a year ago, but with a difficult schedule on paper, Washington needs a strong start at Arizona and against Indianapolis to contend for the playoffs.

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