When Gerald Hodges was traded to San Francisco, it was rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks that was handed the keys to the defense. Those keys were tossed to Audie Cole when Kendricks was unable to face St. Louis on Sunday due to an injury to his ribs.
Cole, however, did not survive this game and Head Coach Mike Zimmer indicated he would miss the rest of this season after suffering a fractured ankle during the action.
“I think Kendricks will get back and I think we’ll be fine,” Zimmer said following the game. “[Edmond] Robinson is doing a good job. [Brandon] Watts is a doing a good job. We’re not going to cry because we have injuries. We’re going to get the next guy in there and go fight.”
Cole registered two tackles in the time he played, contributing early to the Vikings success in bottling up talented rookie runner Todd Gurley. Watts picked up two tackles in relief duty while Robinson was credited with a tackle, as well.
The Cole injury occurred with 7:44 left in the fourth quarter. Both quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and cornerback Terence Newman also left them game, each with concussion protocol awaiting them in the locker room, and their ability to play next week remains unknown.
The Vikings win against St. Louis was much welcomed, and it launched them into first place of the NFC North when paired with Green Bay’s second straight defeat, but they will have to remain atop their division with a little less depth available at the linebacker position.