Rudolph doubtful; Johnson, Barr out vs. Miami

The Vikings will be without Charlie Johnson and Anthony Barr, and likely without Kyle Rudolph against the Dolphins.

The Minnesota Vikings will be without at least two more starters Sunday against the Miami Dolphins and likely without three.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph is listed as doubtful after suffering knee and ankle injuries against the Detroit Lions last Sunday, linebacker Anthony Barr is out for the rest of the season with knee surgery upcoming, and guard Charlie Johnson has been ruled for Sunday with an ankle injury that kept him out last week, too.

Safety Robert Blanton is listed as questionable after returning to practice on a limited basis for the first time this week. He didn’t play last Sunday, either, because of his ankle and knee injuries.

Linebacker Chad Greenway and long snapper Cullen Loeffler didn’t practice Friday, either, but they are expected to play, according to head coach Mike Zimmer. Loeffler was out with illness and Greenway had a personal matter. Both are listed as probable.

Nose tackle Linval Joseph returned to practice Friday on a limited basis after being out Wednesday and Thursday with the flu. He said he hopes to be 100 percent by Sunday and thinks the warm weather in Miami could help him.

On Friday, rookie Brandon Watts was filling in for Greenway at weakside linebacker (Gerald Hodges has been filling in for Barr) and Audie Cole was replacing Loeffler at long snapper.

WR Greg Jennings (hamstring), RB Matt Asiata (foot), DE Brian Robison (ankle), CB Xavier Rhodes (wrist) and S Andrew Sendejo (thumb) were all full participants Friday and are listed as probable.

Barr is likely headed to injured reserve next week. He would be the ninth player on that season-ending list, joining quarterback Matt Cassel, RB Jerick McKinnon, offensive linemen Phil Loadholt, Brandon Fusco, Antonio Richardson and Josh Samuda, and linebackers Michael Mauti and Dom DeCicco.

For the Dolphins, G Nate Garner (illness) is out. RB Daniel Thomas (knee) and T Dallas Thomas (foot) are doubtful. LB Jelani Jenkins (foot), S Don Jones (shoulder), and CB Jamar Taylor (shoulder) are questionable.


After a slow start to the season, left tackle Matt Kalil has improved in recent weeks, Zimmer said.

“I think he’s played better the last half of the season and he seems to be better with his technique, better with his finishes, better with assignments,” Zimmer said. “I think he’s been working really hard on trying to do things right.”

Zimmer admitted Kalil’s knee was bothering him after he had offseason surgery, but Zimmer said they aren’t using that as an excuse.

Kalil and the offensive line will have a strong challenge in front of them with the Dolphins’ defensive front. Cameron Wake leads Miami with 9½ sacks, followed by Olivier Vernon with 6½. As a team, the Dolphins have 34 sacks this year.

“They’re good. The two rushers are really good,” Zimmer said. “OV (Olivier Vernon) and Cameron Wake are two really solid rushers, so we’re going to have to do a great job there and their inside people are strong and physical. The D-line coach (Kacy Rodgers) used to coach for me so I know he’s pretty darn good at getting these guys going.”

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