Vikings Injury Report Turns Dicey

Harrison Phillips Had
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There is still one day to go this week before the Minnesota Vikings unveil a final injury report, but Thursday was not advantageous for Week 16’s trajectory.

Five important players didn’t practice, with three days until Minnesota hosts the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium, a Christmas Eve meeting.

Vikings Injury Report Turns Dicey

These men will need some action Friday at practice to have a puncher’s chance at playing this weekend:

  • Alexander Mattison (RB)
  • Byron Murphy (CB)
  • Jalen Nailor (WR)
  • Brian O’Neill (RT)
  • Harrison Phillips (DL)
Injury Report Turns
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Mattison injured his ankle at the Las Vegas Raiders on December 10th and had filled the club’s RB1 job for 13 games. In his stead, second-year playmaker Ty Chandler took the baton at Cincinnati last Saturday and performed wonderfully. Chandler was so productive — 132 rushing yards — that he might’ve won the starting job outright. We shall see.

Murphy is the wildcard on the report. He’s the Vikings’ premiere CB1, at least per the offseason plan, and hasn’t missed any games in 2023. With a knee injury, that spotless streak could change, and some combination of Mekhi Blackmon, Akayleb Evans, and Andrew Booth would pick up the slack.

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Nailor was concussed a couple of weeks ago and is trending in the wrong direction for Sunday. He missed the Week 15 showdown at Paycor Stadium, a loss to the Bengals. If he cannot go in Week 16, Minnesota would lean on Brandon Powell for WR targets, as it has done all season.

Brian O’Neill, like Mattison, is hampered by an ankle malady and didn’t play last week. Veteran OT David Quessenberry performed admirably without O’Neill against Cincinnati, but one must wonder how sustainable his performance will remain. Sooner or later, the Vikings will need O’Neill back in the lineup, especially if they reach the postseason.

to Spell Absolute Doom
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Finally, Phillips didn’t practice Thursday, either. His back is causing the DNPs. Should Phillips miss Vikings-Lions, some hodgepodge of rookie Jaquelin Roy and veteran Khyiris Tonga would get the nod.

Encouragingly, Danielle Hunter, Jonathan Bullard, and Sheldon Day fetched a “limited” practice designation and are trending well for Christmas Eve.

But the main items to monitor Friday on the report are Murphy, O’Neill, and Phillips. Kirk Cousins was lost for the season on October 29th, and Justin Jefferson was out for seven games in October and November, so one must ponder how long the Vikings can keep “getting away with it” regarding significant injuries.

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Minnesota is a 3.5-point underdog for Sunday, a spread that could increase if Murphy, O’Neill, and Phillips are ruled out on Friday.

The Lions have lost five consecutive games in Minneapolis.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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