When the Arizona Cardinals and their top-ranked offense take the field tonight, they won’t have to worry about Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo at safety. With the Minnesota Vikings’ starters sidelined, Anthony Harris and veteran cornerback Terence Newman will take their place in the secondary. It’s not the most ideal situation against a group of wide receivers that includes Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown, but injuries necessitate the change.
In place of Newman, rookie cornerback Trae Waynes will make the start opposite Xavier Rhodes. He’ll be tested by Carson Palmer and must have a solid night if the Vikings are to have any chance in Arizona. The rest of the Vikings’ inactives include:
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 11, 2015
Young players will need to step up at every level of the defense, including a handful of rookies and second-year players. Edmond Robinson, Minnesota’s seventh-round draft pick out of Newberry, will start in Anthony Barr’s place. Depending on Mike Zimmer’s strategy, he’ll either play an important role blitzing, or, will be asked to cover the intermediate area of the field. Palmer has been deadly accurate between the numbers this season, putting even more pressure on a relatively inexperienced linebacker corps.
Like last week, Tom Johnson and Sharrif Floyd will start in the middle of the defensive line. According to the team’s official website, Johnson will replace Joseph at nose tackle and Floyd will play his normal defensive tackle position. Arizona is missing its top running back, but rookie David Johnson is a threat running the football, catching out of the backfield, and returning kickoffs. The Vikings had three days to correct their mistakes against Seattle, which may not be enough against Arizona’s high-octane offense.