By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings appear to be the healthiest they have been in sometime for their match against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs. That includes their 38-7 loss to the Seahawks in Week 13 in Minneapolis.
In that regular season season contest on Dec. 6, the Seahawks racked up 433 yards of offense, including 173 on the ground; possessed the ball more than half the game; and converted just under 70 percent of their third down opportunities. All of that came with the Vikings missing four starters on their defense. Safety Andrew Sendejo and defensive tackle Linval Joseph were inactive with knee and foot injuries, respectively, and safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Anthony Barr left the game with hamstring and groin ailments, respectively.
All four, along more recent injuries to defensive end Everson Griffen (shoulder), fullback Zach Line (illness), running back Adrian Peterson (low back) and wide receiver Adam Thielen (shoulder/low back), are expect to play on Sunday.
Joseph missed four of the last five games for the Vikings. He started and played in the Vikings Week 16 playoff-clinching victory over the New York Giants, but did not look completely healthy and sat out the NFC North title clinching Week 17 win over the Green Packers at Lambeau Field. Joseph has arguably been the Vikings defensive MVP this season before he got hurt. Getting him on the field against the Seahawks will make a big difference against the Seahawks’ weak interior offensive line and rushing offense.
Peterson returned to practice Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday’s practice with a lower back injury. He had his lower back tighten up during the game against the Packers.
The only Vikings player that won’t play because of an injury is backup nose tackle Kenrick Ellis. The 6-foot-4-inch, 346-pound fifth-year veteran suffered a sprained ankle in last week’s win. Ellis’ inability to play Sunday may be one of the reasons the Vikings elevated rookie defensive lineman B.J. DuBose from the practice squad to the 53-man roster when tight end Rhett Ellison was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week. Ellison suffered a torn patellar tendon in his knee against the Packers.
The Seahawks have nine players listed on their injury report. They list tight end Luke Willson (concussion) as out and have running back Marshawn Lynch listed as questionable. They also list defensive end Michael Bennett (toe), safety Kam Chancellor (pelvis), defensive tackle Jordan Hill (toe), cornerback Jeremy Lane (oblique), wide receiver Tyler Lockett (hip), offensive tackle Russell Okung (calf) and guard J.R. Sweezy (concussion) as probable.
Lynch is the most intriguing name on the Seahawks injury report. He has missed seven games this season, but head coach Pete Carroll believes the veteran running back will play.
Probable (75 percent chance player will play):
- Everson Griffen, defensive end (shoulder)
- Linval Joseph, defensive tackle (foot)
- Zach Line, fullback (illness)
- Adrian Peterson, running back (low back)
- Adam Thielen, wide receiver (shoulder/low back)
Out (player will not play:
- Kenrick Ellis, defensive tackle (ankle)
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.