The Minnesota Vikings are expected to place Tom Johnson on season-ending injured reserve after the veteran defensive tackle suffered a torn hamstring during the third quarter of the team’s 34-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, according to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero:
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 20, 2016
With Minnesota down 24-3 late in the third quarter, Johnson was upended by Indianapolis guard Jonatthon Harrison while attempting to pressure quarterback Andrew Luck on a 3rd-and-3 situation. Upon being thrown to the ground, Johnson laid on the turf in pain until trainers arrived on the field. He was aided on the sidelines by the Vikings staff before ultimately being ruled out for the remainder of the game.
Johnson, who has seen an increase in playing time since fellow defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was injured during Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans, is second among Vikings interior defenders with 476 snaps this season, trailing only nose tackle Linval Joseph (612 snaps).
The only remaining defensive tackle on the Vikings’ current 53-man roster is Shamar Stephen, who has been primarily utilized as an early-down run stuffer. Toby Johnson, who has spent time on the team’s practice squad this season and been moved on-and-off the team’s active roster, was waived this past Saturday to make room for running back Adrian Peterson.
Playing in his third season with Minnesota since being signed as a free agent prior to the 2014 campaign, Johnson has totaled 17 combined tackles and 2.0 sacks over the course of 14 games this season. The injury will sideline the interior pass-rush specialist for the remainder of the season, but he should make a full recovery over the next few months and return to the team at 100 percent for next season.
Johnson is set to make $2.3 million during the final year of a three-year contract extension signed in March of 2015. His $2.35 million salary-cap hit next year should protect him from being cut ahead of the 2017 season.
Following three years with the New Orleans Saints, Johnson joined the Vikings during Mike Zimmer’s initial season as head coach. He produced back-to-back career seasons in 2014 and 2015, totaling 58 combined tackles and 12 sacks as a rotational player used primarily on third downs and obvious passing situations.
Pro Football Focus has attributed him grades of 76.4 (2014), 48.0 (2015) and 72.7 (2016) during his three seasons in Minnesota. He finishes the year as the No. 47 ranked interior defensive lineman in 2016 in their system.
Johnson is set to join BJ DuBose, Andre Smith, Mike Harris, Matt Kalil, Teddy Bridgewater, Jabari Price, Jake Long, Antone Exum and Floyd on the team’s injured reserve list. Including Peterson, who was activated from IR this past weekend, Minnesota has placed 11 players on the list over the course of the 2016 calendar year.