Vikings vs. Bills: Week 3 Injury Report

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The Minnesota Vikings will not be at full strength when they host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

The team’s official injury report lists four starters out for Week 3 — DE Everson Griffen (knee), RB Dalvin Cook (hamstring), TE David Morgan (knee), and PR Marcus Sherels (ribs). Backup RB Mike Boone is also listed as questionable with a groin injury.

Minnesota’s key injuries present an opportunity for several younger players to gain regular season experience this week. Stephen Weatherly is expected to get his first career start in Griffen’s place at defensive end, while Tashawn Bower should factor into the rotation.

Cook’s absence will vault Latavius Murray into the starting role and open up significant snaps for either Mike Boone or Roc Thomas, depending on Boone’s playing status come Sunday.

At tight end, rookie fifth-round pick Tyler Conklin will presumably find himself in a large role with Morgan out. Conklin has made several appearances on the field through two games and has caught his only target from Kirk Cousins for six yards.

First-round rookie cornerback Mike Hughes will likely take over both kick and punt return duties on Sunday with Sherels out. However, undrafted rookie cornerback Holton Hill returned the opening kickoff of overtime against the Packers and could see some action there as well.

The consensus seems to be that these players are being ruled out largely as a precaution. The nice thing about playing one of the worst teams in the NFL at home is that you can afford to sit dinged up players and still dominate the game, which appears to be head coach Mike Zimmer’s plan this week.

Elflein Returns

Second-year center Pat Elflein will make his season debut this Sunday after missing the first two games rehabbing multiple injuries. Mike Zimmer said Elflein will not start the game, but that he does have a role in the gameplan.

Elflein put together a stellar rookie season a season ago and quarterbacked an offensive line that displayed tremendous improvement over the 2016 season. It’s very likely Elflein’s outing will be similar to that of a preseason outing for many starters — play a handful of series, get back into the swing of game action and gain some familiarity with teammates.

Bills Injury Report

Buffalo’s roster isn’t exactly threatening to the Vikings when fully healthy. When multiple key players are on the injury report, suddenly the historic 17-point spread for this game makes sense.

Pass rusher Shaq Lawson will miss the game with a hamstring injury. The Bills’ top offensive playmaker, LeSean McCoy, is listed as questionable with a rib injury.