Each week, beat guy Matt Vensel will highlight five Vikings stats that really mean something.
12 — passes completed beyond 10 yards for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
One of the biggest differences between Bridgewater and Matt Cassel has been Bridgewater’s ability to push the ball down the field. According to ESPN, Cassel completed just one of his 11 attempts thrown beyond 10 yards with three interceptions before breaking his foot in Week 3. Bridgewater, meanwhile, has completed 12 of 17 such attempts for 231 yards with no picks and hit on two of his five passes beyond 20 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Sure, those numbers are inflated by his 8-for-12 showing against a poor Falcons pass defense. But still, Bridgewater has impressed.
135 — rushing yards for the Vikings through the “A” gaps during Sunday’s win.
The Vikings rushed for a season-high 241 yards and four touchdowns on 44 carries Sunday, and they did more than half of that damage running behind center John Sullivan, who is quietly having another steady season. The Vikings rushed for 135 yards on 16 carries through the “A” gaps on either side of Sullivan, including rookie running back Jerick McKinnon’s 55-yard gain in the second quarter. The Vikings averaged 8.4 yards per carry behind Sullivan and 3.8 running it anywhere else.
six — completions allowed by cornerback Josh Robinson so far this season.
After a finicky hamstring flared up throughout training camp, Robinson drew the ire of head coach Mike Zimmer. But surprisingly, Robinson has gone from being “the other guy” to playing like “the man,” at least through four games. Robinson, the team’s third cornerback, has allowed just six receptions for 68 yards in coverage on 14 targets, according to Pro Football Focus. He has a pair of interceptions, too. Quarterbacks have a paltry passer rating of 18.5 when targeting Robinson.
one — quarterback hits surrendered by the Vikings offensive line on Sunday.
The play of left tackle Matt Kalil and the Vikings offensive line was scrutinized — including in this space — after the Week 3 loss to the Saints. But that group rebounded with its best performance of 2014 against the Falcons. Not only did the Vikings get their ground game going for the first time this season, they did not allow a sack. Bridgewater was pressured on just eight of his 34 dropbacks and hit only once, according to Pro Football Focus. Kalil allowed just two hurries.
67 — defensive snaps for outside linebacker Gerald Hodges against the Falcons.
Veteran outside linebacker Chad Greenway sat out the 41-28 win with a broken rib and a busted left hand, giving Gerald Hodges an opportunity to make his first NFL start. Hodges ended up playing every single defensive snap for the Vikings and his 67 snaps were 27 more than he had played in his career before Sunday. So how did Hodges do? He made three tackles and recorded one QB hit. With it being a short week, look for Hodges to again have a large role against the Packers.
Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was not at practice on Monday. He’s nursing an ankle injury suffered in the 41-28 victory over the Falcons on Sunday.
Quarterback Christian Ponder received first team reps in Bridgewater’s absence with practice squad quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson serving as his backup. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he was hopeful Bridgewater would play on Thursday against the Packers.
Along with Bridgewater, linebacker Chad Greenway and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn were not at practice. Greenway missed Sunday’s game with broken hand and a rib injury. Munnerlyn missed practice due to an illness.
Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon (ankle) and cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) were limited.
Linebacker Michael Mauti (foot), wide receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring), linebacker Brandon Watts (knee) and fullback Jerome Felton (knee) were listed on the injury report but were full participants.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said he’s making progress after sports hernia surgery last week. He was in the Vikings locker room on Monday, a week into the recovery process after sitting out on Sunday in the team’s 41-28 victory over the Falcons at TCF Bank Stadium.
Rudolph said the injury initially bothered him during the first week of training camp. There was a tear in the abdominal muscle away from the pelvis, Rudolph said, that he felt on the right side. During the procedure, Rudolph said they went ahead and fixed both sides.
“I’m glad that I was able to get them fixed, move forward and be healthy for this push to the playoffs,” Rudolph said. “I think everybody saw that we have something special going on here yesterday. Me personally watching on TV, I want to get back as soon as possible because I want to be a part of this.”
The Vikings training staff exhausted all their options before deciding on surgery. Rudolph said he’d received treatment throughout the week but felt it wasn’t getting any better on Mondays after games. The Vikings opted not to place him on injured reserve with a designation to return, sidelining him for eight weeks. Rudolph said the training staff believes he can return in five weeks.
It’s the second straight season Rudolph will miss a considerable amount of time due to injury. He was placed on injured reserve last year, playing just eight games after breaking his foot.
“There’s nothing worse than being hurt,” Rudolph said. “When you’re not able to be out there with your teammates, and you’re either watching from the side or watching on tv, it’s hard. At the same time, I knew this was necessary because we tried everything we could to avoid it. I had to get it fixed.
Rudolph received a five-year extension worth $36.5 million in August.