Injuries benefiting younger Minnesota Vikings

A number of Minnesota Vikings starters have had to miss time this offseason, but that has meant more opportunities for younger players to earn significant reps.

Injuries to key players have already made themselves present at the Minnesota Vikings' organized team activities this offseason. Linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Sharif Floyd, defensive end Scott Crichton, tight end Rhett Ellison and rookie cornerback Mackensie Alexander have all missed significant time.

Of those players, the one most effected by the missed time has to be Alexander just because this is his first year in the Vikings’ defense, so these offseason workouts are important for him to learn what the coaches are asking. He is doing everything he can, despite his current limitations, though, as you can often find him right on the hip of the team’s defensive backs coach, Jerry Gray, taking mental reps.  There also seems to be a lot of questions surrounding the Barr situation because he has been dealing with the same thing for a couple weeks, but head coach Mike Zimmer will not give many details on what he is dealing with, or the extent of it. Zimmer said that he did not think Barr was injured when he talked with the media back on May 25, and on Tuesday he reiterated that he is not concerned about it.

“It’s the same thing (from a couple weeks ago), but the first injury report comes up September 3, or something like that,” Zimmer said. “So that’s when I’ll give them.”

In fact, Zimmer doesn’t seemed too concerned with any of the injures his players have. Earlier on in OTAs he said that these injuries will be an issue if they extend all the way into training camp, but he doesn’t think they will. 

Along with the players who have missed significant time, there have also been those that have had to sit out for a day or two. Some significant names that have had to miss some time are offensive tackle Matt Kalil, offensive guard Alex Boone, running back Adrian Peterson and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, though he missed practice because of the birth of his child. 

Injuries and players missing time this early in the offseason is not always a bad thing. A lot of time it is just the coaching staff being extra cautious with the players, especially their star players, because there is no need to rush them back. They want to make sure whatever it is the players are dealing with is fully healed, so it is not a reoccurring thing later on in the season. 

Also, when the starters are missing time it allows some of the backups and younger players to get some extra reps that they might not have otherwise gotten. 


Rookie Willie Beavers had the opportunity to work with the starters on Tuesday due to the absence of Boone. Beavers was the Vikings fourth-round pick this year and is believed to be a raw player with a lot of potential, so getting in these extra reps early on, against the starting defense, should only help in his development. 

Linebacker Edmond Robinson is another player who has gotten extra reps, as he has been filling in for the injured Barr. Robinson was taken in the seventh round of the 2015 draft, and while he did get some playing time due to injury, he is still thought of as a bit of a project. He has all the athleticism needed, but he is still very raw, so the extra reps he is receiving early on should only help him out. 

Some other players who have been benefiting from all these injuries are all the defensive tackles behind Joseph and Floyd on the depth chart. Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen are the players backing them up, so they are now working with the first-team defense and getting to go up against the starting offense instead of their backups. That increased level of competition should only help them improve their game.  

The ones that those injuries help more, though, are all the other defensive tackles. Since Joseph and Floyd are not participating in practice, it allows everyone else to get more reps, players like Kenrick Ellis, Bruce Gaston, Toby Johnson and Travis Raciti. Joseph and Floyd would have eaten up a good amount of the reps if they were able to go, but since they can’t, the second- and third-line players receive more reps, which means more opportunities to impress the coaching staff. 

Injuries are a part of the game, and while nobody ever wants to see a player get injured there are some benefits to the starters missing time this early in the offseason. It allows some of the younger players to step up and get reps that they might not have otherwise gotten. And it allows some of the players lower on the depth chart to make a case for themselves and hopefully land a roster spot or a spot on the team’s practice squad for the start of the regular season. 


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