Ben Gedeon‘s second concussion this season led to the Vikings shutting him down. Minnesota placed the starting linebacker on IR Monday and replaced him on the roster with practice squad wide receiver Alexander Hollins.
The Vikings ruled out Adam Thielen for Week 13, so Hollins will give them four healthy wideouts tonight against the Seahawks.
While Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks operate as the Vikings’ three-down linebackers, Gedeon has been a two-season starter. The 2017 fourth-round pick has started 22 games since his rookie year, helping balance out the Vikings’ veteran-heavy defense with a rookie contract. He’s been a starter in name only this season, playing only 102 snaps.
Gedeon’s second concussion occurred against the Broncos in Week 11. After a 53-tackle 2018, Gedeon finished with just 11 this season. This will move Eric Wilson (172 snaps this season) into Minnesota’s starting lineup, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).
The Vikings are expected to promote wide receiver Alexander Hollins from the practice squad, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The undrafted rookie out of Eastern Illinois gives them four healthy receivers tonight against the Seahawks, as Adam Thielen remains out with a hamstring injury.
Hollins, a 6’1″ target, joined the Vikings’ taxi squad shortly after missing the final cut in late August. At Eastern Illinois, Hollins ended his collegiate career with 127 career receptions, good for tenth on the program’s all-time list. In his final year, he had five games with 100 yards receiving, including a 167-yard breakout against Indiana State.
Thielen, meanwhile, has not seen double-digit snaps since Week 6. Due to his nagging injury, Thielen will see his 1,000-yard streak end after two exceptional seasons, though he hopes to be back in action to help the Vikings in the playoff hunt. As of today, the Vikings have a 90% chance of reaching the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight, with a 42% chance of winning the NFC North. A win over the Seahawks would bring them to 10-3 and virtually solidify their spot in the postseason.
In eight games this year, Thielen has 27 catches for 391 yards and six scores.
The NFC’s contender class (non-NFC East contingent) has separated from the pack, giving the conference a clear top five going into December. With the NFC-leading 49ers set for a historically brutal late-season stretch, cases can be made for each of the top five moving to the home-field advantage bracket position.
While the Cowboys and Eagles are almost certainly vying for the conference’s No. 4 seed, the 49ers, Saints, Seahawks, Packers and Vikings comprise one of the more interesting pursuits of a conference’s No. 1 slot in recent memory. Week 17 in the NFC may not feature many starters resting.
Armed with the ninth-best defensive DVOA figure through 11 games in the Football Outsiders-developed metric’s 34-season history, the 49ers carry a 10-1 record into the regular season’s final month. They made a statement in the first leg of their difficult three-game stretch, a defensive line-keyed rout of the Packers, but still have games in Baltimore and New Orleans (both oddly staying in the early-Sunday time slot) on tap. The 49ers also conclude their season with a Seattle trip. They have not won in Seattle since 2011, when Tarvaris Jackson was at the controls for the Seahawks, and have not earned a playoff bye in seven years.
While the 49ers have the NFL’s second-toughest schedule remaining, the Seahawks’ remaining SOS is not much easier. Their final five games double as the seventh-most difficult stretch run. Seattle (9-2, No. 8 in DVOA) is 9-2 but won in San Francisco during a 6-0 road start. Following their home tilt against the Vikings, who lost in Seattle on a Monday night in December 2018, the Seahawks have a road Rams game scheduled before meetings with the Panthers and Cardinals.
New Orleans does not have it any easier, with the league’s fifth-toughest slate remaining. After the 49ers, however, the Saints (10-2, No. 6 in DVOA) face the Colts at home before outdoor games in Nashville and Charlotte. Since 1994, only the Seahawks (2013-14) and Eagles (2002-04) have earned the NFC’s No. 1 seed in back-to-back years. Illustrating the stakes for the Saints: they are 6-1 at home in the playoffs under Sean Payton, with the loss obviously coming in controversial fashion last season, and 1-5 on the road during the Payton-Drew Brees era.
The Vikings (8-3, No. 7 DVOA) sit 11th in the December SOS rankings but do have each of their divisional home games remaining, with a “road” game against the Chargers mixed in. Were they to stick the landing and reach the playoffs, it would mark an extraordinarily rare run. With no Viking quarterback helping the team to two postseason berths since Daunte Culpepper, Kirk Cousins guiding Minnesota to January football would make six different starting quarterbacks since Culpepper’s 2004 season to lead the Vikings to the playoffs.
With two of their worst offensive games of the decade occurring in November trips to Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Packers (8-3, No. 10 DVOA) have cooled off considerably. They do, however, have by far the easiest road to January among the NFC’s premier quintet. Only the Eagles and Browns face a worse run of opponents than the Packers, who draw the Giants, Redskins, Bears and Lions. The Packers have not earned a playoff bye in five years but appear a stealth threat to make such a push this season.
So which of the NFC’s powers will end up securing home-field advantage? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts on this race in the comments section.
Adam Thielen‘s last game featuring double-digit snaps came in Week 6, but the Vikings‘ highest-paid skill-position player is trending in a better direction for Monday night’s game. Battling a hamstring injury, Thielen returned to practice Friday and got in two limited workouts this week. He does not expect to be a game-time decision, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter), so the Vikings (and certain fantasy owners) may have some advance notice. Thielen will see his 1,000-yard streak likely stop after two seasons, but the 29-year-old standout is certainly pivotal to Minnesota’s hopes at winning the NFC North.
The Vikings have waived Josh Doctson, according to a team press release. To take his place on the roster, the club promoted linebacker Cameron Smith from the practice squad.
Doctson, 26, hasn’t lived up to his 2016 first-round draft billing. He effectively lost his rookie season to injury and didn’t show much in his subsequent seasons with the Redskins. The Vikings gave him a shot this year, but he leaves Minnesota without recording a single reception.
It’s bad news for Doctson, but potentially excellent news when it comes to Adam Thielen‘s recovery. Thielen has been sidelined by a hamstring injury, but his return may be just around the corner. Unfortunately, the release of Doctson will not foreshadow the return of Chad Beebe. The wide receiver was nearing his potential return from injured reserve, but this week’s ankle surgery means that he will not be able to play again in 2019.
The Vikings are 8-3 following back-to-back wins over the Broncos and Cowboys. Next up – a Monday night showdown against the Seahawks.
The Vikings are eyeing some offensive line reinforcement. ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reports (via Twitter) that the team worked out offensive linemen RussellBodine and MarcusMartin.
Bodine, 27, has generally played center throughout his career. The 2014 fourth-rounder spent the first four seasons of his career with the Bengals, starting all 64 of his appearances. He signed a two-year deal with the Bills during the 2018 offseason, and he proceeded to appear in 10 games (10 starts) for Buffalo. He was traded to the Patriots back in August, but he was released a week later.
Martin, a 2014 third-round pick, has bounced around the league a bit since his three-year stint with the 49ers. The 25-year-old has 26 career games (24 starts) under his belt, but he hasn’t seen the field since the 2016 campaign. The offensive guard signed with the Seahawks this past offseason, but he was released by the team at the end of the preseason.
The Vikings recently placed BrettJones on the injured reserve, but the center had only played a limited role with the organization. The Vikings didn’t play this past weekend, but JoshKline was forced out of the lineup for Week 11 as he recovered from a concussion.
The Vikings also worked out a pair of running backs in Johnny Stanton and Ryan Yurachek. Stanton had a previous stint with the organization, with the collegiate quarterback trying his luck at fullback. Yurachek spent this past preseason with the Cowboys.
Vikings assistant head coach/offensive advisor Gary Kubiak has no interest in returning to the head coaching ranks, as Chad Graff of The Athletic tweets. “That’s not for me anymore,” Kubiak said.
That doesn’t come as a major surprise, given that Kubiak stepped down from his last head coaching job with the Broncos due to health concerns, and his health was also an issue during the latter stages of his tenure as the Texans’ HC. However, he is on the sidelines for the first time since the 2016 campaign — he served as a senior personnel advisor for the Broncos during the 2017-18 seasons — and it was fair to wonder if he was getting the head coaching itch again.
On the other hand, Kubiak could return to an offensive coordinator role at some point. He was mentioned as a viable OC candidate following the 2017 season, and he was expected to accept the OC job with the Broncos after they hired Vic Fangio as head coach this year. But Kubiak and the Broncos couldn’t see eye-to-eye on staffing and offensive philosophies, which led him to take his current post in Minnesota.
And while he is obviously not solely responsible for the Vikings’ offensive output his year, the club’s performance is not hurting his reputation as an offensive guru. Minnesota currently ranks ninth in the league in yards-per-game and eighth in points-per-game, and quarterback Kirk Cousins is having a career year. So if Kubiak still wants an OC job, he may just get it.
November 16th, 2019 at 7:05pm CST by Marc Delucchi
In an exclusive interview with Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required), controversial Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict laid into the league and did not seem to leave any thought unspoken. Burfict, who is currently serving a suspension that began after Week 4 and spans to the end of the season, was adamant that his behavior does not compare to Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who was recently suspended indefinitely after swinging a helmet at Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Burfict also detailed the suspension process, including the appeal meeting he had with league executives. The former Bengals linebacker claims the league had already decided on the suspension prior to the meeting and had no interest in hearing his side of the story. On top of some colorful language used at the expense of multiple execs, the piece offers an interesting view into Burfict’s place in the Raiders locker room.
Here’s more from around the NFC:
Vikings safety Jayron Kearse may not be in Minnesota for much longer given the tone of his tweets today. This morning Kearse tweeted out that he was “excited” for his future, but when a fan replied asking if the Vikings will be a part of his future, Kearse replied “No.” Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press noted the back and fourth and added that Kearse did not answer him on Friday when Tomasson asked if he would start in tomorrow’s game against the Broncos given Anthony Harris‘ injury. Tomasson speculates that Andrew Sendejo could instead be the starting safety.
Longtime Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers‘ contract expires at the end of this season and set to turn 38 in December, it would not be a shock for the veteran to declare this his last professional season. However, Rivers remains noncommittal on his future, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN. Rivers still has a desire to play in the Chargers new stadium when it opens in 2020, but wants to take some time after the season ends to evaluate where he is physically and mentally before making any final determination.