Vikings have injury concerns with 4 starters

The Vikings might be without another four starters after they left Sunday’s game.

Robert Blanton was in a walking boot on Monday. Sharrif Floyd was hoping to play once again and avoid being pulled once again. Anthony Barr wasn’t active. Charlie Johnson was on crutches.

Those are the injuries to starters the Minnesota Vikings are dealing with this week, not to mention the wake of players on injured reserve.

Barr, the rookie linebacker who injured his knee two weeks ago and wasn’t active on Sunday against the New York Jets, isn’t expected to be put on injured reserve like rookie running back Jerick McKinnon was on Saturday after dealing with a low back injury for weeks before the Vikings officially ended his season. Neither Barr nor McKinnon practiced last week.

Barr, the Vikings’ first pick in May’s draft, was the team’s leading tackler with 99 and fourth in sacks with four. He also has 13 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. But with him inactive on Sunday, veteran linebacker Chad Greenway passed him for the tackles lead.

For the second straight game, Floyd didn’t start but tried to play through the bruised knee. The 2013 first-round defensive tackle played 19 snaps against the Jets before he left the game, an improvement over the seven he had before the leaving the Carolina Panthers game the week before.

“Just re-aggravated it and it just flares back up,” Floyd said. “We’re going to see how the week goes and it’s going to be (head coach Mike) Zimmer’s call, not mine. So we’re going to see how the week goes.”

Zimmer said last week that Floyd was doing better than he was the week before, and Floyd said there was no ligament damage, only one bruise on top of another that started when he banged knees with another player during practice.

“The week before that knee-to-knee I had also a knee-to-knee in the Chicago game, so contused the contusion,” Floyd said. “Now it’s just not doing what it’s supposed to do.”

Blanton’s status is up in the air, too, as he deals with a lower leg injury. Zimmer said the safety had an MRI on Monday but the head coach didn’t think it was “very serious.”

Left guard Charlie Johnson left the locker room Sunday on crutches after spraining his ankle. He said X-rays were negative after the game and Zimmer reiterated on Monday that it was a sprain, although he didn’t know how much Johnson would be able to practice this week, if at all. Johnson played 28 snaps on Sunday before leaving; his replacement, Vladimir Ducasse, played 30 snaps.

Gerald Hodges, filling in for Anthony Barr, played well, Zimmer said, and tied for the fastest score in Vikings history when he returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown only 12 seconds into the game.

“I thought he played good. He’s got some physicality to him,” Zimmer said. “He gets off blocks good, tackles good. Like every position, there’s always going to be plays you want to be better, but I thought Gerald throughout the course of the year when he’s been in there has been good.”

Matt Asiata has started for McKinnon at running back each of the last two weeks, but Zimmer said on Monday that Asiata might have carried the ball too much against the Jets, when he rushed 19 times for only 54 yards.

“We’d like to get Ben (Tate) a few more carries this week as well, and so we’ll see,” Zimmer said. “Sometimes you just get in the flow of games and things happen. … Matt probably got a few too many and those other guys probably got a few too less.”

Joe Banyard played three snaps and had one carry for 9 yards.

Zimmer said McKinnon had surgery on his back already and confirmed he would be out for two months.

“It needed to be fixed and we just couldn’t prolong it any further,” Zimmer said.


  • After the 30-24 overtime win against the Jets, Zimmer was upset with the way the Vikings played, but he said Monday he never takes a win for granted. “I know how hard it is to get wins in this league. But I am trying to develop a mentality here of a championship football team and I want our performances to be good and strong each and every week,” he said. “So that was really my frustration after the ballgame. But I do appreciate how hard our guys fought.

  • Zimmer said he knew in the fourth quarter of the Panthers game that he would be giving the players a “Victory Monday,” but they didn’t have that luxury this week after beating the Jets.

    “Each week is different, honestly, for me,” Zimmer said. “I think a little bit (is) how they play. It’s a little bit of what we want to get accomplished on Monday. And I wanted to talk to them again after I had my 10-minute calm down period. I wanted to talk to them again about my expectations and where we want to go and how we want to get there.”

    Mike Zimmer press conference, part 1

    Mike Zimmer press conference, part 2

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