The Minnesota Vikings are finishing off the 2016 season the same way they began it — by placing a starter on injured reserved. Effective immediately, Minnesota has deactivated safety Andrew Sendejo for Sunday’s Week 17 matchup with the Chicago Bears and signed former University of Minnesota wide receiver Isaac Fruechte to the active 53-man roster.
Sendejo, who had been enjoying the best season of his seven-year career, had not practiced all week due to a knee injury.
Minnesota’s decision to end Sendejo’s 2017 campaign and bring Fruechte aboard for a one-game stint on the active roster comes less than 24 hours following a report that wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell were listed as doubtful for Sunday’s contest.
The #Vikings have ruled out Adrian Peterson and Andrew Sendejo for Sunday's game. Diggs, Boone and Treadwell are officially doubtful.
— Matt Vensel (@mattvensel) December 30, 2016
With Sendejo out, the Vikings will likely move Anthony Harris back into a starting role for the team’s final game of the season. Harris, who started both Week 14 and Week 15 in place of Harrison Smith, has totaled 193 snaps this season with the vast majority coming during his two-week stint as a starter.Rookie safety Jayron Kearse,
Rookie safety Jayron Kearse, who started in place of Sendejo back in Week 7 against Chicago, has not seen the defensive side of the field since Week 9 following a handful of errors revolving around positioning. The seventh-round rookie out of Clemson represents the Vikings’ other option at safety, and his playing time will likely be dependent on how Mike Zimmer elects to utilize Smith.
Given Kearse’s issues with understanding his assignments and failure to provide a safety net on the back end of the defense — particularly on Bears running back Jordan Howard’s 69-yard carry back when the two NFC North teams met earlier this season — it seems logical to assume that Harris will move into the “zone coverage” role with Smith being moved all around the formation, per standard.
The addition of Fruechte, naturally, provides the Vikings with depth at wide receiver. Considering the health status of both Diggs and Treadwell, this appears to be a relatively self-explanatory corresponding move. Barring yet another injury, however, it seems doubtful the second-year wide receiver will see extended snaps given that Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jarius Wright and Charles Johnson are all (currently) expected to be active.
Minnesota has now placed 12 separate players on injured reserve throughout the 2016 season with running back Peterson returning for a cup of tea against the Indianapolis Colts. Guard MikeHarris, who was placed on the non-football injury list ahead of Week 1, bumps the total up to an unlucky 13 — coincidence, I think not.
Sendejo finishes off his season with 14 starts, 66 combined tackles, two interceptions, four pass breakups, a pair of fumble recoveries, half a sack and a Pro Football Focus grade of 76.7 (No. 34 among safeties).