Coming off a loss in last week’s season opener, the Patriots will face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon. Both teams will have key players sitting on the sidelines in this week’s matchup including Patriots linebacker Jaime Collins and Minnesota star running back Adrian Peterson.
Collins was ruled out for Sunday’s game late Saturday evening along with defensive end Michael Buchanan and Ryan Wendell. Both offensive and defensive rotations will be shifted with the three starters sitting out. New England could attempt to use a 3-4 alignment again this week, likely moving Dont’a Hightower to an insider linebacker position and Chandler Jones to take Hightower’s outside spot. With Collins out, the team could bring in a larger player to help their run defense. However, the move could potentially hurt their pass defense tremendously. If the team decides to use a 4-3 defensive alignment, Jones would likely stay at defensive end, Jerrod Mayo used as the weak-side linebacker, Rob Ninkovich as the strong-side linebacker, Hightower with the middle spot and a rotation for the three positions on the starting lineup.
Peterson was deactivated for Sunday’s after being indicted for reckless endangerment to a child. The running back was jailed on Friday evening before being released after paying a $15,000 bond. Charges arose from an incident in May where Peterson was seen striking his son with a tree branch as a form of discipline.
With the absence of Peterson, second-year wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson could be potential threat. Patterson recorded 102 yards and a 67-yard touchdown in the Vikings win over St. Louis last week.
“He’s definitely a tremendous athlete. You don't see many guys who can do that, come out and play receiver and then actually line up in the backfield and run the ball like a running back,” said Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots’ top tackler last season.
New England has won the past 11 games in matchups against NFC North teams, winning the last three meetings against Minnesota. After last week’s performance In Miami, the team will certainly have an urgency to win in Minnesota.
“They always make adjustments and then come back even stronger after a loss. I'm sure there will be changes that they make in terms of scheme and everything else to get it figured out,” said Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel.
Patriots Insider contributor AnneMarie Blanco (Ablanco on the forums). Look for more updates from AnneMarie here at Patriots Insider.
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