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Vikings sit out most starters, start QB Kellen Mond against 49ers

Minnesota announced prior to the game that 27 players would not take the field

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond takes a snap during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Saturday night’s preseason game definitely had a preseason feel to it.

The Minnesota Vikings announced before the 17-7 loss to San Francisco at U.S. Bank Stadium that 27 players would not take the field. The list included all 22 position players listed as first on the depth chart except defensive end Armon Watts, who did start.

The Vikings sat out 10 starters in a 26-20 loss at Las Vegas in last Sunday’s preseason opener, including two who were ruled out in advance — quarterback Kirk Cousins, who tested positive for COVID-19, and tight end Irv Smith Jr., who is recovering from surgery on his injured thumb.

With Cousins a healthy scratch on Saturday, the Vikings started Kellen Mond at quarterback and he split time with Sean Mannion. Mannion started against the Raiders and split duty with Mond. The two are listed as co-backups on the depth chart.

Rookie Ed Ingram got the start at right guard. While Jesse Davis is listed as first on the depth chart, Ingram did work with the first team when the Vikings had joint practices with the 49ers on Wednesday and Thursday.

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More punt return issues

For the second straight preseason game, Vikings wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette had an issue on a punt return.

Against the Raiders, Smith-Marsette misjudged a punt in the air and then muffed it. On Saturday, he lost a fumble on a return after a nine-yard gain in the second quarter.

But Smith-Marsette did bounce back later in the second quarter to have a 14-yard punt return.

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Smith-Marsette is the top punt returner on the depth chart as the Vikings look to replace Dede Westbrook, who remains a free agent after not being signed. But Smith-Marsette, in his second NFL season, has limited experience as a punt returner.

Smith-Marsette was a star kickoff returner at Iowa but didn’t return a punt in his college career. Last season as a rookie, he had two punt returns in the preseason, one going for 17 yards, but had none in the regular season.

Booth injures ankle

In the second quarter, the Vikings lost rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. for the game with an ankle injury.

Booth was taken in the second round of the draft with the No. 42 pick overall. Even though he had one play in which he was flagged for both a 21-yard pass interference and 15-yard facemask penalty against the Raiders, defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said he was “solid” in his NFL preseason debut.

Booth has been battling veteran Cameron Dantzler to be a starter, but Dantzler has been the favorite to win the job.

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Chandler back for Vikings

After Vikings rookie running back Ty Chandler rolled an ankle in Wednesday’s practice with the 49ers and sat out Thursday’s workout, head coach Kevin O’Connell said he still had a chance to play Saturday. And Chandler was indeed back, scoring a touchdown in the second quarter on a 3-yard run.

Chandler had an impressive debut against the Raiders, but he didn’t score a TD. He carried five times for 50 yards and had a 56-yard kickoff return.

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