None of them practiced all week, but before declaring them out, head coach Mike Zimmer said their lack of practice time this week didn’t necessarily mean they wouldn’t play.
“It depends on each guy. Really it depends on each guy,” Zimmer said. “Some guys can go in and play, are working out because they’ve been up on things. Some guys can’t.”
In addition, receiver and return man Cordarrelle Patterson was added to the injury report on Friday with a hamstring injury and is listed as questionable.
In their first matchup with the Lions, the Vikings’ starting lineup on offense included Patterson, Johnson, right guard Vladimir Ducasse, right tackle Phil Loadholt, tight ends Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford, and RB Jerick McKinnon.
The defensive starters in that Week 6 matchup included tackle Floyd, Barr and Blanton.
At that point in the season, the Vikings were missing Kyle Rudolph and Brandon Fusco on offense and Chad Greenway on defense.
This time, the injuries are far more extensive. Greenway has long since returned to the lineup and Rudolph is back, too, although by the admission of his head coach and offensive coordinator isn’t 100 percent and likely won’t be until next year. Fusco remains out.
But added to that injured list since the Vikings Week 6 matchup with the Lions are a couple of additions to the season-ending injured reserve list – McKinnon (low back) and Loadholt (triceps) – along with the quartet of players that haven’t practiced this week and were listed as out on Friday.
Johnson hurt his ankle in last week’s game and safety Blanton hurt his ankle and knee. Floyd and Barr have dealing with re-aggravated knee injuries that have kept them out of practice all week, too.
In their stead, Ducasse is expected to start at left guard for Johnson, Joe Berger has been starting for Brandon Fusco after Ducasse lost that replacement assignment, Gerald Hodges has been filling in for Barr and Shamar Stephen has started in place of Floyd.
The offensive line has been hit especially hard this year. Center John Sullivan and left tackle Matt Kalil will be the only players on the line to have started all 14 games when the Lions game starts (Johnson had started every game this year).
“They’re guys that battle,” Zimmer said of the replacements on the offensive line. “… They’re pretty smart in getting where they’re supposed to go. This will be a good test for them this week, and the Jets were a good test for them, too.
“Sometimes those guys in there, they just have to fight. There’s a lot of things that happen. These backup players that go in, it’s knowing how to do it and then when you get the opportunity you’ve got to be able to fight and there’s sometimes that we’re helping (Berger), sometimes we’re helping other guys. But it’s important that we’re all on the same page as we get going.”
The Lions present a formidable matchup with the second-ranked defense in the league and the top-ranked run defense. In their Week 6 matchup, the Lions had eight sacks of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in addition to getting three interceptions off him.
In addition to those who are out or questionable, the Vikings also had fullback Jerome Felton (neck), defensive end Everson Griffen (low back) and cornerback Jabari Price (hamstring) listed on the injury report this week, but they are all listed as probable and expected to play.
For the Lions, defensive tackle Nick Fairley (knee) has been ruled out while running back Reggie Bush (ankle) and linebacker Tahir Whitehead (shoulder) are questionable.