Vikings Begin Week with Familiar Injuries

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A formal Minnesota Vikings injury report, the week’s starter kit, will drop Wednesday afternoon, but Tuesday wasn’t a good start for two players.

Vikings Begin Week with Familiar Injuries

The Vikings host the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Christmas Eve, and must win two of their final three games to reach the postseason. Winning only one of three matchups would require intense scoreboard-watching from the team and its fans in Week 18.

And heading into the rivalry matchup this weekend, Minnesota could again be without the services of running back Alexander Mattison and right tackle Brian O’Neill, two men nursing ankle injuries.

Vikings Begin Week
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ESPN’s Kevin Seifert tweeted Tuesday, “No sign of RT Brian O’Neill or RB Alexander Mattison during the media viewing portion of practice. Vikings were inside with all the doors open to bring the temps down a bit.”

Mattison and O’Neill missed last weekend’s contest at the Cincinnati Bengals, a 27-24 loss at Paycor Stadium. Wide receiver Jalen Nailor was also on the shelf with a concussion.

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The good news? The Vikings’ replacements at each man’s position performed well. Halfback Ty Chandler took the reins in Week 15, tallying 132 rushing yards on 23 carries with a touchdown to boot. For weeks, arguably months, Vikings fans have called for more Chandler touches. On Saturday, that wish was granted, and Chandler delivered. The 25-year-old very much played the role of a bellcow running back, so much so that not too many lamented Mattison’s absence.

Still, a healthy Mattison certainly won’t hurt Minnesota, and upon his return, perhaps the carry load will flip. Chandler resembles a player deserving 20-25 rushing attempts per game. With any luck for the pro-Chandler camp, Mattison can grab the mop-up touches from Chandler. We shall see.

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On O’Neill, veteran offensive tackle David Quessenberry was in charge at right tackle, tabulating a 63.2 Pro Football Focus grade, with a 68.9 pass-blocking score. This is known as serviceable, and not too long ago, the stuff of dreams from Vikings faithful regarding an offensive lineman.

When O’Neill returns, which shouldn’t be too far away, everybody will welcome him back with open arms, and Quessenberry will revert to reservist duty. The Chandler-Mattison dynamic is a different story.

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Minnesota could also receive a defensive injection soon. Veteran linebacker Jordan Hicks was activated from injured reserve this week, on tap to rejoin the club sometime in the next three weeks. And based on the coaching staff’s comments, that could be as early as Sunday.

The full Vikings injury report will unfold Wednesday, and most eyes will turn to O’Neill’s status. Minnesota is a better offensive unit with him in the lineup.

Minnesota is a three-point home underdog against Detroit.

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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