Sloppy play, penalties and injuries hurt the Vikings in a 14-10 preseason loss to the Jaguars this past Saturday, and the injuries might have a last effect, as this team prepares for Week 1. You never want any injuries for your team, but six is a big number. Which is just how many players left the game and didn’t return. Three players were carted off, including – defensive end Ade Aruna (knee), offensive lineman Cedrick Lang (lower leg) and fullback Johnny Stanton (lower leg). Cornerback Mackensie Alexander suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and was listed as questionable to return. Center Josh Andrews injured his ankle at the beginning of the third quarter on an incomplete pass and was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
After rookie Jeff Badet caught a 13-yard pass from Kyle Sloter in the fourth quarter, he took a vicious hit to the head that put him in the concussion protocol. The bad news is that a handful of these injuries appear to be serious. Coach Mike Zimmer said that he expects that several players will be lost for the season. Lang will likely have to undergo surgery. Outside of Alexander, many of the players who were injured on Saturday were fighting for a roster spot. Coach Zimmer had this to say:
“Yeah I feel bad for those guys because they come in here and work their rear ends off. We had a huge number of injuries today, you never want your guys to get injured and it was kind of freaky things; we get rolled up on, it was unfortunate things today opposed to, you know [Jeff] Badet got hit in the head.”
Minnesota went into Saturday’s game already down four starters on the offensive line: Mike Remmers (ankle), Rashod Hill (ankle), Pat Elflein (PUP) and Nick Easton (neck). Aviante Collins started in place of Hill before moving to left tackle and subsequently left guard. Cornelius Edison who started the game at center had to come back in after Andrews got hurt and played almost a full game.
What does this mean for the team? The players have used the “next man up” mentality throughout training camp as more and more injuries have forced the Vikings to continue to shuffle personnel through different positions. The biggest challenge they’re facing right now is building continuity while continually adjusting for new personnel. Hopefully, Zimmer can get some of his players back in the next week or two. If he does, he’ll have a better shot at keeping his team together.
Playing behind a rotating offensive line is something that quarterback Kirk Cousins has grown used to over the years. Injuries in Washington back in 2017 forced the Redskins to use 36 offensive line combinations. What’s great to see is that Cousins has a good attitude about the whole thing. While frustrating, a bad attitude on top of hard times is a difficult one to deal with.
“You learn to roll with the punches in this league. You can’t start to say, ‘Well, that’s not how we drew it up, so now we’re not going to plan on doing great things,’ so you just play and take whatever’s thrown at you, and that’s the only way you have a chance to have success. I think that the players who have come in in place of some of our starting offensive linemen have done a good job and have been ready to play. Coach Flip is doing a really good job with the game plan and playcalling to accentuate our strengths and try to protect us from some of our weaknesses, and that’s what a great playcaller does.”