Saturday, July 30, 2016

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings entered Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks with a litany of injuries, and now, there may not be any room left on the bench. Anthony Barr (groin) and Harrison Smith (hamstring) left the field early in the first quarter and didn’t return the rest of the first half. Robert Blanton was injured on a hit from teammate Antone Exum, forcing Terence Newman to move from cornerback to free safety for a play. Blanton returned, but the injury bug is biting, and biting hard in Minnesota.

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In a meeting of the league’s top two rushing attacks, the Minnesota Vikings will be without a key contributor on the defensive line. Linval Joseph, who injured his foot against the Atlanta Falcons last week, is inactive. The cog in the middle of Mike Zimmer’s defense will be replaced by Sharrif Floyd, who is making his first career start at nose tackle. Fellow defensive tackle Tom Johnson will start in Floyd’s vacated position and lead the effort to stop Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls.

Strong safety Andrew Sendejo is inactive after receiving an MRI on his injured knee earlier this week. Fortunately for the Vikings, Harrison Smith returns to the active lineup and will boost a secondary that’s been decimated by injuries in recent weeks. His presence should help Antone Exum Jr., who is making just his second career start at strong safety.

The other inactive players include:

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(photo credit: Joe Lemke)

I can’t believe this is my 188th post for Vikings Territory.

As some of you may already know per my Twitter post this morning, I have officially accepted a full-time position with the Minnesota Vikings as an assistant editor/staff writer, and I will be starting with them on Dec. 14. I’m so grateful for the many people who have mentored me and supported my goal of being a writer, and the fact that I’ll soon be starting a position with my hometown team is nothing short of a dream come true!

That said, this site has played a large part in my story, and it’s certainly bittersweet to step away from the VT team and the great group of contributors (as well as readers!) I’ve gotten to know in my time here. Just over two years ago, I interviewed former Vikings wide receiver Jake Reed, was looking for a solid platform on which to post the feature story, and Adam W. graciously hosted me as a guest writer. Adam brought me on permanently just a few months later, and the rest is history.

Each and every one of my VT colleagues is a classy and talented individual, and it’s been such a pleasure to work with all of them. Because I’m the sentimental type, I absolutely have to offer my thanks.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

At 8-3, the Minnesota Vikings are the surprise team in the NFC and a legitimate threat to claim the NFC North division title. With the league’s second-best scoring defense and Mike Zimmer’s steady hand leading the ship, Minnesota has — at the very least — a 90 percent probability to reach the postseason.

When the Vikings lost to the San Francisco 49ers to open the season, a playoff berth appeared unlikely. The defense couldn’t stop the run, Adrian Peterson ran like a 30-year-old running back, and the offensive line looked lost without John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt. Mike Zimmer’s team lacked an identity early on, but they’ve slowly established themselves as one of the NFL’s most physical, technically sound teams on both sides of the ball.

As I’ve written these “What Went Right” pieces, I’ve noticed a consistent pattern. When the Vikings win, it’s because of the defense and the legs of Adrian Peterson. Specifically, the defense plays with discipline, filling run gaps correctly, tackling in space, and preventing big plays down the field. On offense, Minnesota wins when they unleash Peterson, who has at least 19 carries in every Vikings victory this season. Any less, and they’ve gone on to lose.

While the defense created turnovers against Atlanta in Week 12, it was Peterson who powered Minnesota to victory. This Sunday, when the Vikings host the Seattle Seahawks, he’ll need to do the same against an aggressive, stout run defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season.

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(image courtesy of vikings.com)
Vikings Injury Report
NamePositionInjuryWed.Thur.Fri. Status
Joseph, LinvalDTFootDNPDNPDNPOUT
Sendejo, AndrewSKneeDNPDNPDNPOUT
Barr, AnthonyLBHand/groinLimitedDNPLimitedQuestionable
Smith, HarrisonSKneeLimitedLimitedLimitedQuestionable
Blanton, RobertSAnkleFullFullFullProbable
Waynes, TraeCBAnkleFullFullFullProbable

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