With an offensive line that saw the July retirement of Phil Loadholt, the release of former starting center John Sullivan in August and a hip injury to left tackle Matt Kalil in September that landed him on injured reserve last week, the Minnesota Vikings got some good news on Monday.
Left guard Alex Boone, who suffered a hip injury in the first half of Sunday’s 22-10 win over the Carolina Panthers and didn’t return to the game, should be able to play next Monday night against the New York Giants.
“He had an MRI and I think he should be OK,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, indicating Boone should be ready for the Giants game. “I think. I won’t know until we get out there and practice, but from what I understand he’s feeling better.”
Boone played 19 snaps before the injury took him out, and replacement Jeremiah Sirles played the final 35 offensive snaps at left guard.
“He plays a lot of positions and we gave him a lot of work at guard this last week anyway. But he went in there and did a really good job,” Zimmer said of Sirles. “He got to the second level, did a nice job in pass protection, did a good job.”
The Vikings have struggled to get much of a running game going – averaging just 2.1 yards per carry – and Boone said after a Week 2 win against the Green Bay Packers that he was sick of hearing about it and they would get it fixed.
Instead, the Vikings averaged only 2.4 yards on 24 running plays against the Panthers.
“I think they shocked us a little bit,” Zimmer said of the Panthers defense early in the game. “We gave up a couple hits on the quarterback early with a couple pass-rush games and things like that. We got ran over one time. Some of it was getting settled down, and actually there were some runs in there that we had blocked pretty good and we tried to bounce and we ended up getting zero instead of getting three so I think some of those things are factors as well.”
Boone said after the home opener that communication on the offensive line was an issue because it was so loud in U.S. Bank Stadium, even when the hometown Vikings were on offense.
On one of the two sacks that Bradford took, the Panthers rushed only three defenders, including linebacker Thomas Davis, who got the sack when neither Boone nor center Joe Berger blocked him and he had a plenty of momentum going as RB Jerick McKinnon tried to thwart him.
“Things get redirected a lot at the line of scrimmage so there’s always going to be some kind of communication things going on,” Zimmer said. “There was another run that we had a chance to block pretty good that you have to combination to a certain guy and they didn’t hear the call. There’s a lot of things that go on with all that stuff.”
In addition to Boone going out of the game on Sunday, TE David Morgan left with a knee injury. Zimmer couldn’t remember the exact injury, but he said Morgan won’t be going on injured reserve.