It appears some help could be on the way for the Vikings up front.
While the offensive line has struggled immensely through the first six games of the season, the Vikings (1-5) got a boost Monday when they designated guard Pat Elflein for return from injured reserve. They also designated linebacker Troy Dye for return from injured reserve.
That allows Elflein and Dye to begin practicing with the team again and gives the Vikings a 21-day window to return them to the active roster. If they don’t activate them in the allotted time, both players must remain on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
After starting at right guard in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers, Elflein tore a ligament in his thumb in a practice leading up to the Vikings’ second game, Sept. 20 at Indianapolis. He has missed five games now, and his replacements, Dru Samia, who Pro Football Focus ranks among the worst players at his position, and rookie Ezra Cleveland, who had an up-and-down NFL debut Oct. 18 against Atlanta, have not played well.
It remains unclear if the Elflein will be ready to play in this Sunday’s game in Green Bay against Packers, who share the NFC North division lead with the Bears at 5-1.
After getting torched by Aaron Rodgers in the season-opening, 43-34 loss to the Packers, young Vikings cornerbacks Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney will have an opportunity for redemption this weekend.
Asked if he thinks his two rookies are better equipped to handle Rodgers, Zimmer said, “Hopefully we can be a little bit better than we were in that ballgame.”
In the teams’ first meeting, Rodgers completed 32 of 44 passes for 364 yards and four touchdowns. He targeted star receiver Davante Adams early and often and will likely do the same this weekend.
Adams is coming off arguably the best game of his career in Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans, finishing 14 catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He and Rodgers will be the Vikings’ focus this weekend.
“They are doing a good job scheming for him,” Zimmer said. “They don’t leave him in one place. They move him all over the field. Sometimes he runs the jet sweeps. Sometimes he’s on the backside by himself. Sometimes they throw a screen to him when he’s in the slot. We’ll obviously know where he is, and we’re going to have to do our very best to try to challenge him. He’s always a tough matchup.”
Speaking of the secondary, the Vikings are doing what they can to add reinforcements, claiming cornerback Chris Jones off waivers Monday and signing cornerback Mark Fields off their practice squad.
Those moves could say more about cornerback Mike Hughes than anything else. He left the game against the Falcons a couple of weeks ago after a neck injury resurfaced. He already has missed two games, against Tennessee and Houston.