MINNEAPOLIS — Jakeem Grant has been trying to prove to the Miami Dolphins that he can be more than just a return man.
He sure looked the part in the preseason finale on Thursday night.
Grant caught four passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in the first half of the Dolphins’ 30-9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
David Fales completed 12 of 20 passes for 193 yards and three scores, including a 65-yarder to Grant , a second-year receiver that coach Adam Gase has been trying to get more involved in the Dolphins offense.
“I’m a receiver before a returner,” Grant said. “That’s what I’ve been harping on and I want to show everybody, even myself, that I can go out there and make big plays like Kenny (Stills), Jarvis (Landry) and DeVante (Parker). Whenever you put me in you can trust me. I’m going to make that big play and there’s not going to be a slack off.”
Cayleb Jones had nine catches for 127 yards and a touchdown for Minnesota, which finished the preseason 2-2. Taylor Heinicke threw a touchdown, but was underwhelming in his two quarters of play before he was knocked out of the game with a concussion.
Both teams rested almost all of their regular starters with the first game of the regular season just a week away. That included Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler, who came out of retirement earlier this month to replace the injured Ryan Tannehill.
Kenyan Drake ran for a touchdown and Fales also threw a 6-yard TD to former University of Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray to help the Dolphins finish 2-2 on the preseason.
Gase moved Grant from slot receiver to outside this summer, hoping it would give him more opportunities. He had plenty of them on Thursday night, catching a 28-yard pass early in the first quarter to get going, drawing a pass interference near the end zone to set up Drake’s 1-yard plunge .
In the second quarter, he got behind defensive backs Jayron Kearse and Sam Brown and hauled in a perfectly thrown deep ball from Fales to put Miami up 14-0.
“He’s hard to cover out there,” Gase said. “Usually when you put a smaller guy outside you worry that he’s just going to get grabbed by the bigger corners and get held up. But what he does is he’s so shifty he’s hard to get hands on and gets by you quick.”
Vikings defensive back Mackensie Alexander drew coach Mike Zimmer’s ire in the second quarter when he was penalized for taunting after breaking up a pass to Grant in the end zone. The penalty gave Miami a first down and led to Gray’s TD catch. For a second-year cornerback who has dealt with maturity issues, it wasn’t a good sign.
“I don’t think it was very good,” Zimmer said. “We had a little discussion about it.”
The Dolphins signed veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga to help with their depth at the position. He did not appear in a preseason game and has not even been assigned a jersey number on the team’s official roster. Gase said they left him in Miami to continue to work on his conditioning in hopes that he can get ready to help them in the regular season.
“We want to have him in the best shape possible,” Gase said. “It’s one of those deals where gradually through the season we’ll get him more and more snaps. We’ll just see how it shakes out.”
Former University of Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner was working for Bite Squad — a local service that delivers restaurant food to homes and businesses in the Twin Cities — when the Vikings called him last week. He entered in the third quarter to a nice ovation and went 14 for 19 for 129 yards.
“It’s something you dream about as a kid growing up in Minnesota,” Leidner said. “Actually I don’t even know if you dream about this because it seems so far away. For it to actually happen, it’s pretty cool.”
Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf announced that the family and the team are donating $300,000 toward Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The Vikings are donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross and the Wilf family is donation $200,000, half of which will go to the Red Cross and half to the Jewish Federations of North America Harvey relief fund.
The Vikings also ran an in-game video featuring players Texas natives Brian Robison, Danielle Hunter and Case Keenum that encouraged fans to donate to the cause.
Dolphins: Open the regular season at home on Sept. 10 against Tampa Bay.
Vikings: Open at home on Sept. 11 against New Orleans and longtime Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson.