Injuries are a part of NFL football. If the Vikings had their original plan in place for how to play the offensive line position, Sunday's knee injury to Corbin Lacina may not have been as devastating. But, as it stands, it may be huge heading into Sunday's game with the Giants.
With 11:50 to play in the second quarter, Lacina's knee buckled as he was engaged in a block on Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp and the word VU got after the game was the situation looks serious – as in quite possibly season-ending.
Coach Mike Tice acknowledged the injury by simply saying "it doesn't look good." But that may be an understatement. While no firm decisions have been made, the expectation is that Lacina is out for a minimum of a couple of weeks, but, after an MRI today, he may well be placed on injured reserve.
Entering training camp, the plan was to have Bryant McKinnie and Lewis Kelly at tackle, Chris Liwienski and Dave Dixon at guard and Matt Birk at center. Because of the McKinnie holdout, Kelly was moved to left tackle and Liwienski remained at RT. With Kelly still expected to miss Sunday's game and replacement Everett Lindsay tabbed to replace Lacina at left guard, the Vikings are left with three options.
The first would be to put Cory Withrow, who replaced Lacina Sunday in at guard. The second is to move Lindsay to guard and let Adam Haayer and McKinnie split time at left tackle. The third is to throw McKinnie out and have him play LT most of the game.
The initial word VU is getting is that the second option – Lindsay to LG and Haayer starting with McKinnie getting a series per quarter – looks like the one they'll go with. However, it has left a dilemma that won't rest itself easily.
** Lacina isn't the only Viking getting an MRI today. WR Derrick Alexander was taken off the field on a cart late in the first half and his injury was described as a strained left medial collateral ligament. He will get an MRI today to determine the extent of the damage.
** Safety Ronnie Bradford was briefly knocked out on the 19-yard TD pass to Keyshawn Johnson. He was diagnosed with a concussion and will be evaluated today.
** Michael Bennett's 85-yard TD run was a record setter in two respects. It broke the all-time team record of 80 yards by Clinton Jones set almost 23 years to the day (Nov. 2, 1969), but also tied the Bucs defensive record for longest rushing TD allowed. Prior to Bennett's run, the three longest TD runs against Tampa in team history were held by Barry Sanders.
** Gary Anderson's field goal at the end of the first half gives him 482 for his career, putting him one ahead of Kansas City's Morten Andersen. The Chiefs had their bye week this weekend.
** While it wasn't mentioned on the televised broadcast of the game, Tice had Todd Bouman warming up to replace Culpepper in the fourth quarter, but opted to let Culpepper finish the game.
** Brad Johnson's five TD passes were a career high and tied a franchise record set in 1987 by Steve DeBerg.
** The Bucs pulled off a move of many warm-weather teams Sunday. While most home teams wear dark uniforms, they have the option of wearing dark or white uniforms. With the purple jerseys of the Vikings absorbing heat, Tampa opted to wear white and force the Vikings to wear the darker, hotter jerseys.
** After fumbling the opening kickoff, Nick Davis was replaced by Moe Williams in the return game and didn't see any return action following the first kick of the game.
** What may have been more amazing than Keyshawn Johnson matching his touchdown totals of the last 25 games with the Bucs Sunday with two TD receptions, they were the first two Red Zone receptions – inside the 20-yard line – he's had in nine games this season.
** In a bizarre post-game spectacle, a Tampa radio reporter was ejected from the Vikings locker room by a police officer. He initially had a confrontation with Randy Moss, who the reporter stepped up for an interview with while Moss was talking with teammate Hunter Goodwin. Moss told the reporter to go away, but he refused. After having words with other Vikings, a policeman came into the locker room and escorted him out of the area.
** Cedric James had his first career reception – a 29-yarder from Culpepper. Receptions have been few and far between for James, who spent most of his college career as a glorified blocker for LaDainian Tomlinson at Texas Christian.
** A pair of former defensive starters were among Sunday's de-activations. For a second straight week, Willie Offord – who started the first six games of the year – was inactive, as was LB Patrick Chukwurah. VU is being told that Chukwurah is not pleased about his current role – or lack thereof – with the team.
Lacina Hurt, Maybe Headed to I.R.
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