Through almost four years of his NFL career, Matt Kalil has had a first-hand experience for every offensive snap.
After about 4,000 snaps at left tackle, the modern-day ironman of the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line finally relented on Sunday night.
Kalil left in the fourth quarter of the Vikings’ 49-17 win with a shin injury that is believed to simply be a bruise.
“They just told me his X-rays were negative,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said after the game.
Kalil said after the game he will “be good” for Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers, a game that will decide the NFC North champion and which team gets the No. 3 seed in the NFC and thereby earns a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
“I just got bumped in the shin,” he said. “I’ll be alright, though.
“I think his leg swung around or something as he was falling, the defensive lineman. His leg whipped around and smashed me in the shin kind of.”
In 2013, Kalil was the only offensive player out there for every snap, more than 1,000 of them. The story was the same in 2014. And it was looking like that would be the case again this year until the 62nd snap of the 15th game saw him leave the field.
The 63rd snap for the Vikings offense on Sunday night was the first one Kalil has missed in his career.
“That’s what we were just talking about. That sucked,” he said. “I was trying to get back out there, but I just wanted to get it checked out. I’m good.”
Kalil’s consistency in being in the lineup throughout his career has been impressive. His consistency of play, however, since his rookie year is still a work in progress.
“He’s had a much better year. He’s still got things he’s got to work on. I think his mentality is always pretty good,” Zimmer said. “As you just say, he hardly ever misses a practice and never misses plays. That part is always good. I just want him to be more consistent all the time.”
Zimmer said he and others have evaluated Kalil’s rookie year and the years since. The conclusion: he still needs to hone his technique.
Other than Kalil, Terence Newman was the only other Viking to miss much time in Sunday’s game. He left in the second half with illness.
“I didn’t know about it,” Zimmer said. “No one told me until he came off one time and was throwing up on the sideline. He gave up that quick out early in the ballgame and I asked him if he was OK and he said, ‘Yeah.’ But he didn’t tell me he was sick. And then he gave up the touchdown pass, so I should have got him out before that.”