EAGAN, Minn. -- Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was looking for some receivers to separate themselves in the battle for roster spots.
It didn’t really happen Saturday, Aug. 24.
With starter Adam Thielen sitting out a 20-9 preseason win over Arizona at U.S. Bank Stadium, there were more snaps available for other receivers. But the Vikings struggled in the passing game for much of the afternoon.
A mostly bright spot was rookie Olabisi Johnson, who caught three passes for 52 yards. But Johnson likely already has secured a roster spot, and Zimmer did find some faults in his performance.
“He’s continued to do a good job,’’ Zimmer said. “I know that he made one mistake. … When he gets in there, he makes plays and catches the ball, and typically runs the right routes. He ran one wrong one.’’
Johnson did bounce back after not having any receptions in the second preseason game Aug. 18 against Seattle. He had two grabs for 35 yards and a touchdown in the Aug. 9 opener at New Orleans.
“I try to take advantage of every opportunity that I get because I am not going to get many,’’ said Johnson, who also returned a kickoff for 36 yards. “Any time I am on the field, I am going to try to make a play.’’
After starters Thielen and Stefon Diggs, it mostly has been looking good for Johnson, Chad Beebe and Brandon Zylstra to make the roster. But Beebe didn’t catch a pass Saturday when targeted three times and Zylstra had one catch for seven yards on two targets.
If the Vikings keep six receivers, it remains wide open for the last spot. Jordan Taylor had two receptions for 19 yards against Arizona, but failed to grab a catchable long ball down the left side from backup quarterback Sean Mannion.
Rookie Dillon Mitchell got in for just six late-game snaps, but did have one catch for 10 yards. And Laquon Treadwell, who had four receptions for 47 yards against the Seahawks, didn’t have catch while being targeted just once.
Jeff Badet didn’t play because a groin strain suffered in practice last Tuesday. He said the injury isn’t serious, but doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play in Thursday’s preseason finale at Buffalo.
It didn’t help matters Saturday that starting quarterback Kirk Cousins completed just 3 of 13 passes for 35 yards. Mannion was better, completing 6 of 9 for 57 yards. Then third-stringer Kyle Sloter completed 6 of 7 passes for 102 yards and led the Vikings to two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Sloter connected three times with wide receivers, hitting Johnson for 22 yards, Mitchell for 10 and Taylor for seven. But that was against a third-team defense.
Vikings punter Matt Wile said his thumb is “all healed up” after a freak injury on the sideline during the preseason opener.
Wile was cut on a kicking device and said he needed six for seven stitches. He then didn’t hold in practice the next week or for the game against Seattle, and the stitches were removed the game after that game.
Wile returned to holding last week and handled the duties against the Cardinals. Wile, who had just one late-game punt against the Seahawks, also punted six times for a 47.3-yard gross and 41.0-net average.
Wile usually wears a glove when holding but not when punting. He did wear a glove when punting when the stitches were in.
“It affected me when I was punting because I’m not used to wearing a glove when I punted and the ball would get stuck in the glove,’’ Wile said. “It was a little tough (for a period) when I was holding because the snap would come in and it would just hurt.’’
Wile is battling Kaare Vedvik for the punting job. Vedvik also is competing with Dan Bailey to be the kicker but didn’t help himself Saturday by missing field-goal attempts of 43 and 54 yards.
Sloter leads all NFL quarterbacks in the preseason with more than two attempts with a passer rating of 146.9. Sloter has completed 23 of 27 passes (85.2 percent) for 280 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. … After carrying 10 times for 41 yards against Arizona, Mike Boone leads the NFL in the preseason in rushing with 177 yards. He has carried 35 times for a 5.1 average. … Badet greeted Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray, a former Oklahoma teammate, after the game. “I just said I’m praying for a healthy season for you and just to go out there and be you,’’ Badet said after the rookie competed 14 of 21 passes for 137 yards. “That’s my guy.’’