Vikings near full strength on defense

The Vikings had some starters miss practice during the week, but they are likely to play Sunday against the Patriots. Plus, notes and quotes on the Patriots’ offensive line, the Vikings’ return game, the Mike Zimmer game plan and more.

Mike Zimmer sounds like his two defensive starters that missed practice time this week – defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes – should be able to play on Sunday against the England Patriots, despite being listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

Floyd didn’t participate on Wednesday and Thursday, but was back on a limited basis Friday after suffering a left shoulder injury in Sunday’s opener against the St. Louis Rams.

Zimmer said Floyd is feeling “much better” and Floyd deferred to Zimmer about whether he will play.

“I feel as though I’m good to go, but it’s coach’s decision,” Floyd said. “It ain’t got nothing to do with me.”

The injury occurred when Floyd took a block to his shoulder when he said he had a “brain fart” in playing the wrong technique.

“It was just a play where I was supposed to be more in tune with my technique,” Floyd said. “Instead of trying to rush the passer, the call that was made was made for me to play run and I didn’t play run. I was pass rushing. So they ran their play and I had to brace for the block.”

Zimmer didn’t seem concerned with Floyd’s availability for Sunday.

“He practiced a little bit today so we’ll keep him treatment,” Zimmer said Friday. “I think there’s a good chance.”

“He played well. He played the run good. He had some good pass rushes in there. I thought he played well. I thought all of our defensive linemen played well.”

Rhodes was a limited participant in practice Thursday and Friday after missing practice on Wednesday with a groin injury.

He and Zimmer spent several minutes talking after Friday’s practice, and Zimmer said they were discussing treatment to get him back on the field Sunday.

Adrian Peterson was not practicing on Thursday but had a “veteran day off” and he returned to practice on Friday. Early Friday afternoon, before his indictment in a child injury case was public, he was removed removed from the injury list and expected to play Sunday. After a statement from Peterson’s attorney regarding the case, the team deactivated Peterson.

Starting left guard Charlie Johnson is also expected to play after suffering a minor ankle injury in practice Wednesday that limited his participation. He is listed as probable on the injury report, along with OT Mike Harris (shoulder), FB Zach Line (ankle), LB Michael Mauti (foot) and CB Jabari Price (hamstring).

Johnson is “good to go,” Zimmer said. “He wasn’t really doing much when it happened. It’s nothing.”

LB Brandon Watts (knee) is out.

The Patriots listed five players as questionable – DL Michael Buchanan (ankle), LB Jamie Collins (thigh), DT Chris Jones (ankle), DT Sealver Siliga and C Ryan Wendell (knee). All expected Collins were limited participants in Friday’s practice, with Collins, a starter, not practicing.

TE Rob Gronkowski (knee) is probable.


Floyd playing should help the Vikings’ defensive line against a Patriots offensive line in flux.

Last week, while four of the Patriots’ offensive linemen played 99 or 100 percent of the offensive snaps, there was a rotation at center.

Wendell started but played in only 26 percent of the snaps and backup guard Jordan Devey played in 76 percent. Rookie Bryan Stork, listed as the backup center, was inactive.

The result was quarterback Tom Brady was sacked four times in 60 dropbacks.

“I think we’ve worked hard this week to try to correct problems in all the areas that I just spoke about,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked about the line issues. “We’ll see on Sunday.”

The Vikings had five sacks against a more established Rams offensive line last Sunday.


While much has been made this week about Cordarrelle Patterson’s versatility on offense after a 102-yard game rushing the ball, he made the Pro Bowl after his rookie season as kickoff return man.

Belichick was asked who Patterson reminded him of as a kick returner. The comparison: The Ravens’ JaCoby Jones.

“He’s big, strong, aggressive, hard to tackle. He’s got good vision and he hits seams but there are a lot of times where guys get a shot at him and they just can’t tackle him or he runs through tackles,” Belichick said. “He’s got breakaway speed. That type of player – can hit the home run, can do the distance, sometimes it’s there but sometimes it’s really not there and he still makes a lot out of it. That’s the mark of a real good returner, a guy that can take something that doesn’t look like its great and turn it into a big play.”

Last year, the Patriots finished sixth in the league on kick coverage while Patterson led the league with a 32.4-yard average on kick returns.

The Patriots also finished ninth covering punts while Marcus Sherels set a Vikings record with a 15.2-yard average on punt returns, second in the league in 2013. Baltimore’s Tandon Doss led the NFL with a 15.6-yard average.

“I think (Marcus) Sherels is as dangerous on punt returns, probably as dangerous on punt returns. Different, different type of guy, different style of guy but equally explosive and dangerous. Their return game was the best in the league last year, the combination of the two. That will be a big challenge for our special teams units.”


Mike Zimmer is 1-2 facing Bill Belichick and the Patriots but won last year’s matchup while the defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, 13-6.

Belichick expects Zimmer to have a similar game plan defensively with the Vikings on Sunday, saying there is “a lot of carryover” between Zimmer’s defensive schemes with the Bengals and Vikings.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they Xeroxed the same game plan. We couldn’t do much: 1-for-13 on third down, six points, whatever it was,” Belichick said, recalling last year’s game with the Bengals. “They did a good job. Yeah, we’re certainly prepared for that, if they just do the same thing they did last year. It wouldn’t shock me at all, until we show we can do something about it. We didn’t do much last year.”

Zimmer shook off a question about that comment.

“It was a completely different team. They didn’t have (tight end Rob) Gronkowski last year,” Zimmer said. “I know he’s going for win number 200 and I’m going for win number two.”


  • Zimmer said he usually tries to relax on Friday afternoons by deer hunting, but he won’t be able to do that yet because it isn’t in season yet in Minnesota.

  • The Patriots worked out former Vikings defensive tackle Fred Evans this week, but Zimmer dismissed the notion that the Patriots would be able to get much useful information from him.

    “That’s part of the NFL. It happens,” Zimmer said. “That’s not something that we do, but I know other teams do that and I’m not saying they’re trying to get information. It still comes down to blocking and tackling and completing balls and running and all that stuff. It’s nice, but it doesn’t win ballgames.

    “We have a different game plan this week than we did last week anyway and (Evans and others) weren’t there for that last week, either, so I’m not concerned about it. I’m concerned about (Tom) Brady and the guys they’ve got.”

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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