The injury issues for the Minnesota Vikings appears to have gone from bad to worse.
With outside linebacker Anthony Barr currently nursing a lingering knee injury that kept him out of the season opener, middle linebacker Eric Kendricks missed the early portion of Thursday’s practice with an undisclosed injury of his own.
This was a surprising development considering Kendricks was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. He also talked to reporters ahead of Thursday’s practice and seemed like his usual self during his brief interview session.
Though outside linebacker Nick Vigil was solid in last Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he’s not, simply put, the same type of impact player as Kendricks. Plus, if both Barr and Kendricks are out for this Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, that likely means Vigil would line up next to young middle linebacker Troy Dye.
That would create a number of problems as the Vikings look to stop Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
Aside from Barr and Kendricks, the Vikings also were without defensive end Everson Griffen and cornerback Harrison Hand during the early portion of Thursday’s practice.
As kicker Greg Joseph trotted onto the field for a 53-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the season-opener, special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest.
Though he felt comfortable with the preparation the specialists had put in throughout the week, there were still some nerves as Joseph lined up for the field goal.
“It’s a high-challenge kick,” Ficken said. “That’s why he’s here. Because he has that ability to connect on those and help our team put points on the board.”
In the season opener, Joseph actually made the 53-yard field goal twice. He nailed the first attempt, even though it didn’t count because Bengals coach Zac Taylor called a timeout just before the snap. He then calmly lined back up and nailed the second attempt to send the game into overtime.
“He comes back in there and he drills it,” Ficken said. “It was incredible. Just great to see him do that and build that confidence and rapport.”
After a rough debut with the Vikings last weekend, cornerback Bashaud Breeland didn’t hide from his mistakes. He owned up to the 26-yard pass interference penalty that essentially gifted the Bengals a touchdown, as well as the 50-yard touchdown he gave up to rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Now he’s moving on to the Cardinals this weekend.
“We should be 1-0 right now,” Breeland said. “Those two mistakes I made really put us in a hole deep. But not one time did my team go weary on me. They all stood beside me to get me through the little rut I was in.”