Notebook: Injuries have coaches adjusting

The Vikings' coordinators are getting increasingly limited with what they can do because of injuries. They talked about some of the adjustments, including a different attitude in facing Tim Tebow.

Adrian Peterson could be a game-time decision because of a high ankle sprain suffered on Nov. 20, but the Vikings' coordinators have been getting a crash course in adjusting to injuries even before Peterson's injury.

Peterson's injury forced Toby Gerhart into a starting role and the results weren't what the Vikings were hoping for – a 2.6-yard average on 17 carries for Gerhart and only a 2.7-yard average on 24 rushes overall for the Vikings as a team.

"(The game plan) changed in subtle ways, trying to orchestrate some runs that were more up Toby's alley rather than Adrian's in terms of their running style," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said.

The blocking schemes didn't change, Musgrave said, but they also didn't yield many opportunities for Gerhart either, whose longest run was 12 yards.

"There was no daylight to run to. We want to do some things better collectively so we get him rolling full speed ahead when he hits the line of scrimmage and do what he does best, which is run downhill, break tackles and keep us on schedule," Musgrave said.

Peterson didn't practice again on Thursday and hasn't practiced since spraining his ankle 11 days ago.

While Peterson's injury further limited the Vikings offense on Sunday, big-bodied receiver Michael Jenkins also suffered a knee injury that will cause Musgrave to make further adjustments. One of those could be using rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph (6-6, 258 pounds) more on the edges of the offense, as they have no wide receivers left taller than 6-foot-2.

On defense, the Vikings have lost several key players for the season. Their best cornerback, Antoine Winfield (broken collarbone), was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 16. On Tuesday, starting safety Husain Abdullah (concussion) joined him, as did Abdullah's replacement, Tyrell Johnson (hamstring). All of those moves were preceded by Chris Cook's arrest for felony domestic assault, and he hasn't practiced with the Vikings since.

The defensive losses, especially in the secondary, have been particularly limiting for defensive coordinator Fred Pagac.

"When you're calling plays, you have to understand that you may have one guy here that may not play this technique as good as the other guy or something like that. It would limit you a little bit," Pagac said. "I love to play man coverage. When you start to get people dinged up and nicked up and you start getting people hurt, it's hard to make those calls at the time."

To complicate matters, starting middle linebacker E.J. Henderson hasn't practice yet this week because of a shoulder injury, and his younger brother Erin has been limited the last three weeks with a hamstring injury. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams has been playing through plantar fasciitis and Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen, who is second in the league with 13.5 sacks, was also absent at Thursday's practice.

RETURN OF THE ROUSER?

How will the Vikings approach trying to stop quarterback Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos' top-rated rushing offense?

"Going back to college and playing option football. That's part of their package now," said Pagac, who coached at Ohio State for 23 years. "They have different looks they run base football out of. They have different looks that they're running the spread zone reads, the option game."

Pagac agreed with the assessment from defensive end Brian Robison that the defense will almost have to approach Tebow like they would another player running the Wildcat offense. However, Pagac didn't discount Tebow's desire to win.

"He's a competitive son of a gun that's a good football player. He's a big, strong kid. … He's like playing with a second running back in the game," Pagac said.

"… You watch film and he'll make three or four guys miss him. He's a competitor."

FREE ALLEN

Jared Allen has gone two games without a sack. Pagac acknowledged that teams continue to pay close attention to him when dishing out additional blockers.

"Last week he was getting chipped quite a bit, but that's what I would do to him, too, if I were coaching against him. It's basically what he's been seeing all along," Pagac said. "You've got to make some plays, too, and go from there. Jared is Jared. He's going to play hard and he's going to give you his best shot every game."

The Vikings may move him from side to side at defensive end, but it didn't sound like they would move him inside too often.

"There'll be a few times he'll be right or left. It's not very often we'll put him inside, but there might be something there," Pagac said.

With as much as the Broncos run the ball, Allen's opportunities for sacks may be limited Sunday.


NOTES

  • If E.J. Henderson isn't able to play because of a shoulder injury, Pagac said Xavier Adibi will take the middle linebacker snaps in the base defense and Erin Henderson would be the middle linebacker in the nickel defense.

  • Two Broncos defenders – LB Von Miller and NT Brodrick Bunkley – have been drawing repeated praise this week from Vikings coaches. Musgrave said Vikings coaches have never seen Bunkley playing better than he is right now, and Miller is a definite focus for Minnesota's blocking schemes.

    "We'll try to make sure that he doesn't wreck the game," Musgrave said of Miller. "… We're bracing for impact on facing Von Miller on Sunday, whether he's injured or 100 percent healthy."

  • Miller (thumb) was the only Denver player that didn't practice on Thursday. WR Eddie Royal and RB Willis McGahee were both limited.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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    \r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Adrian Peterson could be a game-time decision because of a high ankle sprain suffered on Nov. 20, but the Vikings' coordinators have been getting a crash course in adjusting to injuries even before Peterson's injury. Peterson's injury forced Toby Gerhart into a starting role and the results weren't what the Vikings were hoping for – a 2.6-yard average on 17 carries for Gerhart and only a 2.7-yard average on 24 rushes overall for the Vikings as a team. \"(The game plan) changed in subtle ways, trying to orchestrate some runs that were more up Toby's alley rather than Adrian's in terms of their running style,\" offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. The blocking schemes didn't change, Musgrave said, but they also didn't yield many opportunities for Gerhart either, whose longest run was 12 yards. \"There was no daylight to run to. We want to do some things better collectively so we get him rolling full speed ahead when he hits the line of scrimmage and do what he does best, which is run downhill, break tackles and keep us on schedule,\" Musgrave said. Peterson didn't practice again on Thursday and hasn't practiced since spraining his ankle 11 days ago. While Peterson's injury further limited the Vikings offense on Sunday, big-bodied receiver Michael Jenkins also suffered a knee injury that will cause Musgrave to make further adjustments. One of those could be using rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph (6-6, 258 pounds) more on the edges of the offense, as they have no wide receivers left taller than 6-foot-2. On defense, the Vikings have lost several key players for the season. Their best cornerback, Antoine Winfield (broken collarbone), was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 16. On Tuesday, starting safety Husain Abdullah (concussion) joined him, as did Abdullah's replacement, Tyrell Johnson (hamstring). All of those moves were preceded by Chris Cook's arrest for felony domestic assault, and he hasn't practiced with the Vikings since. The defensive losses, especially in the secondary, have been particularly limiting for defensive coordinator Fred Pagac. \"When you're calling plays, you have to understand that you may have one guy here that may not play this technique as good as the other guy or something like that. It would limit you a little bit,\" Pagac said. \"I love to play man coverage. When you start to get people dinged up and nicked up and you start getting people hurt, it's hard to make those calls at the time.\" To complicate matters, starting middle linebacker E.J. Henderson hasn't practice yet this week because of a shoulder injury, and his younger brother Erin has been limited the last three weeks with a hamstring injury. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams has been playing through plantar fasciitis and Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen, who is second in the league with 13.5 sacks, was also absent at Thursday's practice. How will the Vikings approach trying to stop quarterback Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos' top-rated rushing offense? \"Going back to college and playing option football. That's part of their package now,\" said Pagac, who coached at Ohio State for 23 years. \"They have different looks they run base football out of. They have different looks that they're running the spread zone reads, the option game.\" Pagac agreed with the assessment from defensive end Brian Robison that the defense will almost have to approach Tebow like they would another player running the Wildcat offense. However, Pagac didn't discount Tebow's desire to win. \"He's a competitive son of a gun that's a good football player. He's a big, strong kid. … He's like playing with a second running back in the game,\" Pagac said. \"… You watch film and he'll make three or four guys miss him. He's a competitor.\" Jared Allen has gone two games without a sack. Pagac acknowledged that teams continue to pay close attention to him when dishing out additional blockers. \"Last week he was getting chipped quite a bit, but that's what I would do to him, too, if I were coaching against him. It's basically what he's been seeing all along,\" Pagac said. \"You've got to make some plays, too, and go from there. Jared is Jared. He's going to play hard and he's going to give you his best shot every game.\" The Vikings may move him from side to side at defensive end, but it didn't sound like they would move him inside too often. \"There'll be a few times he'll be right or left. It's not very often we'll put him inside, but there might be something there,\" Pagac said. With as much as the Broncos run the ball, Allen's opportunities for sacks may be limited Sunday.
  • If E.J. Henderson isn't able to play because of a shoulder injury, Pagac said Xavier Adibi will take the middle linebacker snaps in the base defense and Erin Henderson would be the middle linebacker in the nickel defense.
  • Two Broncos defenders – LB Von Miller and NT Brodrick Bunkley – have been drawing repeated praise this week from Vikings coaches. Musgrave said Vikings coaches have never seen Bunkley playing better than he is right now, and Miller is a definite focus for Minnesota's blocking schemes. \"We'll try to make sure that he doesn't wreck the game,\" Musgrave said of Miller. \"… We're bracing for impact on facing Von Miller on Sunday, whether he's injured or 100 percent healthy.\"
  • Miller (thumb) was the only Denver player that didn't practice on Thursday. WR Eddie Royal and RB Willis McGahee were both limited.
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