The Vikings Could Once Again Be Facing A Depleted OL

Grading the Vikings Position Groups: Defense
Dec 16, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings entered their bye week following a 24-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins. They were spearheaded by a ferocious pass rush, one that got to Dolphins quarterbacks Skylar Thompson and Teddy Bridgewater six times. In total, they pressured the two quarterbacks a combined 31 times on the day.

Although it was refreshing to see the Vikings get consistent pressure on the Dolphins, they had some help. Miami was without their two starting tackles. They started Greg Little at left tackle even though he had played in place of starter Austin Jackson since Week 1 at right tackle. Veteran Brandon Shell got his first start on the season at right tackle.

The Vikings may be beneficiaries of another team’s injuries as they come out of their bye this week. While the Vikings only had only one player on their injury report on Wednesday (Jalen Nailor, a full participant), the Cardinals weren’t as lucky. 14 players appeared on Arizona’s list, including five offensive linemen.

Four of these were starters. To be fair, right tackle Kelvin Beachum’s absence wasn’t injury related. But left tackle D.J. Humphries (back), left guard Max Garcia (shoulder), and center Rodney Hudson (knee) were all held out of practice.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) rates Humphries 28th out of 77 tackles this year. The other two aren’t quite as good, as Garcia is rated 68th of 77 guards and Hudson is 22nd out of 37 centers. But they have been part of a unit that has helped churn out the league’s 13th-ranked run game and is tied for 11th in pass blocking, according to PFF.

As it stands entering Week 8, the Cardinals rank 15th in the league in both points (22.3) and yardage (343.1). Despite their 42-34 victory over the Saints last week, they have struggled to consistently light up defenses as they did last year. With the Cardinals’ injuries along the offensive line, the Vikings could once again feast on an under-manned line, aiding their chances of improving to 6-1.

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