The Vikings’ running game struggled without Jerick McKinnon and they will have to do without him for the rest of the season.
The back injury that sidelined rookie running back Jerick McKinnon
turned out to be more serious than initially expected – serious enough that it’s going to require offseason surgery that will sideline McKinnon for up to two months.
ESPN reported that McKinnon will have to undergo a back procedure that has a standard timetable of approximately eight weeks of recovery time. That is expected to be enough time to have McKinnon back at 100 percent by the time the Vikings start their offseason workout program.
McKinnon hurt his back lifting weights at Winter Park, but tried to play through the injury, playing two games before being deactivated against Carolina last week. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve late last week.
McKinnon became the primary running back for the Vikings when Adrian Peterson
was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List in September. Matt Asiata
got the first shot at the starting job but was supplanted by McKinnon, who rushed 113 times for 538 yards and caught 27 passes for 135 yards.
McKinnon exceeded expectations as a rookie, switching from quarterback at Georgia Southern in a gimmick offense to running back in the NFL – a difficult transition to say the least. One of the things that stood out about McKinnon at the NFL Scouting Combine was that he did 32 reps of 225 pounds – a very good number for a defensive lineman, much less a running back, prompting the Vikings to use one of the picks it received in the Percy Harvin
trade to select him.
McKinnon is expected to make a full recovery, but in a season where Vikings players have been dropping like flies, he’s the latest whose season has ended with a surgeon’s knife repairing the damage.
Both left guard Charlie Johnson and safety Robert Blanton are scheduled to have MRIs done today to determine the extent of the damage to their respective leg injuries suffered Sunday.
It may be a long time before we see a two-game stretch of big plays like have been witnessed the last two weeks. Coming off a game in which the Vikings returned two blocked punts for touchdowns, they scored a defensive touchdown, had two TDs of 50 yards or more and had a fumble recovered in the end zone. Throw in a safety on a sack of Teddy Bridgewater and, over the last two games, Vikings fans have seen just about every conceivable way to score points.
Through the first 12 games of the season, the longest reception by a Viking was 52 yards by Jarius Wright. That mark got eclipsed in the first quarter when Charles Johnson caught a 56-yard touchdown. It wouldn’t last the remainder of the game, as Wright re-took the long reception lead with his 87-yard overtime score.
Jerome Felton had never scored a touchdown in the NFL prior to Sunday, but, if one looks at his career stats, it still doesn’t show up. Because it wasn’t a run or a reception, it would appear that Felton still hasn’t scored because scoring stats don’t include fumble recoveries for offensive players.
Teddy Bridgewater had a spectacular day, posting a passer rating of 117.7, but it could have and should have been higher. Had Johnson not fumbled inside the 1-yard line on the Felton recovery touchdown, the TD pass would have propped Teddy’s total higher. He was also penalized for an interception that came on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half and didn’t do any damage to the team because time expired when the ball came down.
Andrew Sendejo may be replacing Blanton next week, but he made one of the biggest plays of the game in relief of Harrison Smith. Smith suffered a shoulder stinger during a 12-play Jets drive and was replaced by Sendejo. With the ball on the Vikings 5-yard line and Sendejo in on his second play, he stripped running back Chris Ivory of the ball at the 2-yard line and Captain Munnerlyn recovered it – keeping the Vikings ahead 21-12 and escaping a potential game-tightening touchdown.
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