Two weeks ago, it was Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots. Last weekend, it was Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and the Saints. This week, Mike Zimmer’s defense was preparing for Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White, and an argument can be made that it’s the toughest test yet.
Ryan leads all NFL quarterbacks at 8.69 yards per pass attempt and has thrown for 965 yards through three weeks. Jones is tops in the league with 365 receiving yards. And White, his fellow Falcons wide-out, says he will play Sunday after sitting out a week with a hamstring injury.
Throw in wide receivers Harry Douglas and Devin Hester and that’s a lot of dudes to worry about.
“Julio has been great. Obviously, Ryan can move, get out of the pocket. He’s got a great arm and throws the ball down the field very well,” Zimmer said. “But then they’ve got Roddy White and Hester’s playing great, Steven Jackson in the backfield. They’ve got a lot of weapons, so we’re going to have to do a great job of being in the right place. We’re going to have to stop the run better than what we did last week. We’ve got to make sure we’re in the right position in coverage all day.”
With Jones back to full strength after season-ending foot surgery in 2013 and Ryan throwing the ball well, the Falcons lead the league in both points per game (34.3) and yards per game (455).
Vikings cornerbacks will be tested, especially when on the outside with Jones and White.
“They’re tough to cover, man. They’re great receivers,” said cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who played against the Falcons twice a year when he was with the Panthers. “You’ve got to get up in their faces and press those guys. You can’t be scared of them. You can’t play off those guys. That’s when they’re real tough — after the catch, making people miss — especially Julio Jones.”
It’s official. Vikings outside linebacker Chad Greenway has been listed as out for Sunday’s game.
Greenway, who has made 90 straight starts and played in 115 consecutive games, will be watching on the sideline at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday as the Vikings host the Atlanta Falcons. The last season in which Greenway watched a game was his first, when he tore his ACL in the preseason.
“It’s been a while,” Greenway said after today’s practice. “So it will be difficult. The whole thing is obviously not how you draw it up. But it’s part of the game. Guys deal with it all the time.”
While Greenway has a broken left hand, it is a painful rib injury that will sideline him this weekend.
“It’s fairly indescribable, to be honest with you,” he said. “Anybody who’s had a [broken] rib before, much respect.”
As for the streak itself, Greenway says he isn’t worried about it coming to an end beyond the obvious fact that he would prefer to be playing on Sunday.
“Nothing is going to be forever, so it’s not that big of a deal,” he said.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph (sports hernia surgery) is also officially out. Cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) is questionable, but coach Mike Zimmer was optimistic about his chances of playing.
Chad Greenway’s streak of consecutive games started appears to be in serious jeopardy.
The veteran outside linebacker, who has made 90 straight starts and has played in 115 consecutive games, walked out to practice without a helmet, a sign he was not practicing for a third straight day.
It seems likely that Greenway, who has a broken rib and a broken hand, will be listed as doubtful for Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. We’ll know for sure when the injury report comes out later.
Yesterday, coach Mike Zimmer said he needed to see Greenway practice today to activate him.
If Greenway does end up sitting out Sunday, Gerald Hodges will likely be his replacement.
The list of sponsors and other entities distancing themselves from Adrian Peterson while he is embroiled in controversy and a legal battle has been been well-chronicled.
But there is new reporting suggesting the fallout could be even more far-reaching for the Vikings — and also the Ravens, who are going through their own massive controversy, of course, with Ray Rice.
Awful Announcing alerted us to a Hollywood Reporter story that indicates the number of brands that don’t want to be associated with the Vikings or Ravens is larger than we might think. Per the story:
Multiple media buyers tell THR that clients have requested their ads not appear during games featuring the Ravens or Minnesota Vikings, the team of suspended running back Adrian Peterson (due in a Texas court Oct. 8 on a child abuse charge for whipping his 4-year-old son). CBS, which kicked off its $275 million Thursday Night Football package Sept. 11 with strong ratings for a Ravens game, had one sponsor ask to be removed from the broadcast and another request its ads shift, likely away from a discussion of the violence issue during CBS Sports’ pregame report. CBS declined to identify the sponsors.
As Awful Announcing notes, this is problematic in short-term thinking, since these are only the “scandals of the moment.” Will advertisers bounce from team to team, week to week?
But it’s certainly also a problem for the Vikings and Ravens if their brands are considered so poisonous that an entity would still be comfortable with the NFL as a whole, but not those two organizations.