When healthy and on the field, Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd creates a difficult matchup for opposing offensive linemen. His fellow defensive tackles described him as a very “explosive” player that possesses a quick first step and a great pass rush.
Unfortunately for Floyd, and the Vikings, he hasn’t been very healthy over the course of his career. He played in all 16 games his rookie season, but that dropped to 14 games in 2014 and then 13 games last season. Now, it’s looking as though he will be missing even more time during the 2016 season.
He played in 25 snaps during the Vikings’ Week 1 game against the Tennessee Titans and was held out of the team’s Week 2 victory over the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings then announced Friday morning that “Sharrif Floyd had a right knee arthroscopy (Thursday).”
There has been no official recovery time period released for Floyd’s injury, but no one seems too concerned about the defense’s performance dipping in his absence. Especially not head coach Mike Zimmer.
“We feel good about the guys we’ve got,” Zimmer said. “He’s played, what, (25) plays or something this year? He hasn’t played. It’s kind of out of sight, out of mind.”
All three of the remaining defensive tackles - Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen - also echoed Zimmer’s comments that they will be fine, though there was empathy in their words. They all said they wish they could have Floyd back and healthy for Sunday’s game, but know it’s not possible.
They are moving forward with what they have and are confident they can get the job done.
“Just a little bit more on you, but the same thing we’ve been doing,” Johnson said. “It’s the same routine, same rotation, pretty much what it’s been. Right now we’re just waiting on him to get better, get healthy and come back. Until then we’re going to keep it rolling.”
Floyd admitted last Friday that he needs to be able to stay healthy and hinted that his knee issue is a lingering issue that hindered him last season. Zimmer is getting used to Floyd missing time, which is never a good thing for a player.
“I’ve got to get healthy. He’s used to it. He hears it every week so it’s about time to stop hearing that,” Floyd said last week.
“The old nagging injuries, they come and go. You’ve just got to fight through it. Some things you can’t fight through.”
In Floyd’s absence, it has been third-year defensive tackle Stephen that has been filling in as the team’s starter. He had to miss a majority of the 2015 season after being placed on the injured reserve with a toe injury, but he has come back strong and Zimmer has liked what he’s been seeing out of him.
“He’s doing good,” the head coach explained. “He’s played well. He’s getting better as a pass rusher. He’s played the run very well. He’s kind of becoming more, he’s growing up. He’s talking a lot more. Before you couldn’t hardly get any words out of him, so now he’s more vocal. But he’s been playing good.”
Even if Floyd were healthy, Stephen may have even earned the starting job this week against against the Carolina Panthers because his strength is stopping the run, where Floyd’s is rushing the passer. The Panthers have a run-first offense, so Stephen should be seeing plenty of snaps on Sunday.
But when asked if Stephen would have been favored over Floyd anyways, Zimmer simply said it didn’t matter since Floyd wasn’t there.
Injuries are a part of football, especially at the NFL level. Grown men are flying around the field and launching their bodies into one another. However, some players, like Floyd, seem to get banged up more than the average player. It’s something that is difficult to deal with, but could end up hurting his career in the long run.
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In the short term, though, his teammates are just hoping for a speedy recovery because they know he adds an extra element to their defense when he’s healthy.
“It’s hard just in general when you get an injury, to be honest with you,” Joseph said. “I’ve had a few injuries and he had a few injuries, and it’s just about how you overcome it. I talk to him all the time and I just want him to come back, be healthy and be ready to go whenever the time comes.”