Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer: ‘Don’t underestimate’ Seattle backups

The Seahawks will be without two important offensive starters, but the Vikings know the backups can give them trouble.

Without two of their key offensive players, the Seattle Seahawks head into Minnesota this Sunday to take on the Vikings. Running back Marshawn Lynch (a.k.a. Beast Mode) underwent hernia surgery in late November and tight end Jimmy Graham is now out for the season after tearing his patellar tendon last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Both of them are considered to be some of the best in the NFL at their given positions, but even though they will be out this Sunday the Vikings know that they cannot sleep on the Seahawks offense.

Quarterback Russell Wilson is still a very dangerous player, especially when he scrambles around and gets out of the pocket. Not only that, but the Seahawks also have very capable backups for Lynch and Graham in running back Thomas Rawls and tight end Luke Willson.

Like Lynch, Rawls is a big, physical runner that is hard to bring down. The Vikings faced a similar running back a couple weeks ago in Eddie Lacy, who ran the ball 22 times for 100 yards. Rawls comes in at 5-foot-9, 215 pounds and the Vikings know they are going to have their hands full with him.

“This kid’s got good feet,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of Rawls. “Actually, somebody had called me last night that had played him and said, ‘This kid’s got good speed. Don’t underestimate this back now, he’s really good.’ So we’re not planning on doing that.

“He’s got good speed to get to the perimeter. It’s kind of like every position, you’ve got bigger players they’re typically more physical than smaller players.”

Zimmer has seemed to relay the message well to his players because they all appear to know what he can do. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is going to have to play a big role in stopping the run this week with Linval Joseph (foot) ruled out, and Floyd knows the Seahawks still have a very good running game, even without Lynch in the backfield.


“I can tell you right now, we’re not looking at who’s playing and who’s not playing,” Floyd said. “More so looking at what they do, how they do it and how we’ve got to stop it. So we can’t say, ‘Well Lynch is 90 percent of their team and we don’t have to worry about the run anymore.’ Still a good running back back there and still a good offensive line, so we got to play solid defense and do our job.”

When Graham was in New Orleans, he one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. He comes in at 6-foot-7, 265 pounds but is athletic enough and fast enough to line up anywhere along the line of scrimmage as a skilled receiver. He creates matchup problems on almost every play, and while Luke Willson is not quite the same player as Graham, he has made some important plays for the Seahawks.

“Luke Willson has made some really big catches,” Zimmer said. “He’s a good blocker. They don’t split him out as much as they did with Graham, but he does a nice job.

“He is fast. He’s got good size and he’s fast. I want to say he’s in the low 4.6’s.”

Even though it seems the Vikings have caught a break with both Lynch and Graham out against them, it may actually be more of a trap. The Seahawks still have good players at both those positions, and if the Vikings aren’t careful they could hurt them in a big way on Sunday.


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