Vikings going to be missing two young core players Sunday against the Jags
Considering the early-to-mid-season injury onslaught that these 2020 Minnesota Vikings have endured, we should count our blessings that with the exception of Ezra Cleveland and some nagging injuries these past couple weeks the Vikings have been relatively healthy as of late. Considering the importance of every remaining game, the Vikings will need all hands on deck each Sunday.
While there was some good news in that regard, it was announced this afternoon that the Vikings will be without two core players Sunday against the 1-10 Jacksonville Jaguars. The Vikings are going into a trap game against the Jaguars, as the Minnesota Vikings which are 10 point favorites according to the odds, but we’ve all seen and heard that before (Atlanta/Dallas) so these injuries are incredibly important should the Vikings want to play into January.
According to head coach Mike Zimmer the aforementioned Cleveland should be “all systems go” Sunday, filling back in at right guard. There was some hope, by me, that the team would keep Brett Jones at the position (where he has performed well with 75/70.1 grades in two weeks) and move Cleveland over to his natural left side to play in lieu of the remaining liability on this line Dakota Dozier.
Perhaps that’ll happen in 2021, but it looks like the Vikings are locked in with their unit down the stretch. Beyond that superstar Adam Thielen will return after missing the Panthers game due to a positive COVID test, and “beat up” running back Dalvin Cook practiced today without any injury designation after being questionable earlier in the week.
The two missing players?
Second-year breakout player Irv Smith Jr. will miss his second game in a row thanks to a back injury (this will also mean he’ll have missed three of the last four games after dealing with a groin injury a couple weeks ago). The Vikings have veteran 80% target to catch percentage monster Kyle Rudolph and should be fine at the position against a terrible Jags defense.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings will be without defensive end DJ Wonnum, who has had increasingly good games since debuting week 2. Wonnum is also dealing with a back (and ankle) injury, and will be replaced by Jordan Brailford or Eddie Yarbrough to replace him in the D-line rotation at defensive end behind Ifeadi Odenigbo, Jalyn Holmes, and Hercules Mata’afa.
With Thielen back and Cook apparently at full strength, the Vikings shouldn’t have trouble against a Jags team that is in such disarray they decided Mike Glennon was their best chance down the stretch. Considering both teams were the respective losers of their conferences championship game in 2017, it is worth noting how differently each team handled that loss and where each franchise is today.
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Then again, I’m too worried about a trap game to jinx the Vikings like that. Luckily, though, they’ll be mostly healthy and capable of scoring tremendous points against arguably the worst D in the NFL. One that is a far cry from the unit that brought them THIS close to topping Tom Brady and the Pats in 2017.
Sounds like a good idea for a…