Rookie running back Jerick McKinnon has been listed as out for the Sunday game against the New York Jets with the same back issue that kept him out of last Sunday’s game—one caused by a strain during a workout. With three other running backs on the roster, this shouldn’t be a big issue for the Vikings in terms of fielding players, but he is still likely the most talented back the Vikings have.
In his stead, the Vikings will continue to rotate Matt Asiata, Joe Banyard and Ben Tate, and I doubt they will have a consistently featured running back in the short term. Joe Banyard had his snaps cut against the Carolina Panthers because of a missed pass protection assignment, while Ben Tate has ball security issues he needs to fix sooner rather than later.
Rookie linebacker Anthony Barr (as well as rookie cornerback Jabari Price with an ankle injury) has been listed as doubtful (knee), meaning he is also unlikely to play against the Jets—obviously a big concern with the Jets focusing almost exclusively on a running attack against Miami, and potentially doing so again against the Vikings. The Jets ran the ball 49 times and passed 13 times last Monday night, with four of those passes coming in the final drive in hurry-up from behind.
Anthony Barr will likely be replaced by Gerald Hodges, who has had issues defending against the run in the past, especially against the Carolina Panthers. Given the general weakness of the linebacker corps, with the two other starters (Chad Greenway and Jasper Brinkley) struggling, this could be a liability for the Vikings. Anthony Barr hasn’t practiced all week.
On the other hand, the third started that the Vikings may have potentially lost looks likely to play, with Sharrif Floyd listed as probable (knee). Floyd has been stellar since Week 7, and may be more critical to defending the run than Anthony Barr was—he certainly was better at it. Jets center Nick Mangold has been having a revival season of sorts, so a strong presence in the interior will be necessary.
Tight ends Chase Ford (hamstring/foot), Rhett Ellison (ankle) and Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin) are listed as probable.
The Jets will have starting defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson out—a blessing in disguise, because outside of J.J. Watt, Wilkerson is the best 3-4 defensive end in the NFL, and possibly the best two-gap player in the league. This won’t protect the Vikings against an almost equally gifted Sheldon Richardson at defensive end or a strong set of other defensive players set up on the line of scrimmage, but it’s a start. The Jets will also be missing tight end Jace Amaro. No one else is listed as out or doubtful.