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Rookies get large share of playing time in Vikings' preseason opener

MINNEAPOLIS -- Because Sunday's Pro Football Hall of Fame Game was the first of the Minnesota Vikings' five preseason contests, coach Mike Zimmer used the night largely to take a long look at the team's younger players. The Vikings kept a number of starters at home, confined veterans like Adrian Peterson and Captain Munnerlyn to the sidelines and played their first-team offense and defense for just a series each.

It's worth noting that the three offensive players who had the most snaps on Sunday night were rookies, as were the two defensive players with the most playing time. For the better part of the night, Zimmer turned the controls of one of the league's youngest teams to its first-year players.

"It gives you another chance to evaluate guys, really, and kind of see some of the things they can do," Zimmer told reporters after the game. "And then you can start thinking about ways you can use guys. I do think it helps, having the extra week of practice and seeing some of those things."

Third-round pick Danielle Hunter led the Vikings with 62 snaps on defense, while rookie cornerback Trae Waynes saw 54 snaps in what turned into a busy night for him. Waynes gave up a long completion to Shakim Phillips, and was penalized three times in his first NFL action.

"What I wanted to do was, not take him out," Zimmer said. "I wanted to find out what kind of toughness he had. When things happen like that, and you get a couple penalties on you, how are you going to fight back? How are you going to respond? I thought he did a nice job with those things. He's just got to learn some of the technical things about the NFL. Athletically, and the type of kid he is, he's going to be fine."

On offense, the Vikings saw plenty of linemen Austin Shepherd and Tyrus Thompson, who played 48 and 45 snaps, respectively. Tackle T.J. Clemmings got 27 snaps, and tight end MyCole Pruitt -- who saw some brief work with the first-team offense and caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Mike Kafka -- got 25. Receiver Stefon Diggs got 20 snaps on offense, and three as a punt returner, finishing the night with 80 all-purpose yards.

"I was curious to see how we'd come out and perform," Zimmer said. "Like the official said to me after the game, 'You guys played a very clean game. You did things the right way.' That's kind of what I was looking for."