Vikings offensive line in flux heading into final week of season

Lena Tucker
January 1, 2018

As the Vikings prepared for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears at noon, there was a relaxed confidence around Winter Park this week - the kind that typically follows a team that knows what it wants and how to go get it.

Nose tackle Linval Joseph, and likely most of his defensive teammates, aren't too interested in any talk short of the Vikings' first-ever Super Bowl championship.

"I think this is the first time in my career where you can officially say this game counts as more than one", Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph said. I don't do much of that contemplating until the offseason. "I'm not anxious about stats".

Unlike the top-seeded Eagles, who enter the bye week with concerns about their backup QB, NIck Foles, the Vikings are playing exceptionally well behind Keenum and with the NFL's stingiest "D" heading into the new year. Dallas lost 29-10 in Carolina during that season's opening wild-card weekend. "It's a one-and-done season in the playoffs, so you have to make sure you're in the best shape possible and make sure your body feels good". Newman asked rhetorically. "You can finish with the number one defense and go home in the first round of the playoffs". "That's basically what you've got to do".

And rather than stick with Keenum in Chicago as they tried to avoid going 0-2 in the division, the Vikings opted to put their trust in Sam Bradford's aching left knee, in a move that went haywire so quickly that the team took the rare step of making head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman available to the media the next day to explain the decision.

Despite the Sunday's win, there was a calm in the Vikings' locker room. Teammates gathered on the other end of the white line - which blended in nicely with his road jersey - to hide the cornerback with about six minutes left in the first half Sunday.

Joe Berger, who switched from right guard to center with Pat Elflein shelved for a shoulder injury for the second time in four weeks, was the only original starter on the Vikings offensive line to play in all 16 games.

"All those guys are pretty versatile", Zimmer said.

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