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EAGAN, Minn. — The 2019 finale of Monday Night Football will include one of the best rivalries in the NFL.

The Vikings and Packers will play in Border Battle No. 119 in Week 16, as the teams square off in prime time on Monday night. Kickoff is at 7:15 p.m. (CT).

Minnesota is 10-4 following a convincing 39-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in which the Vikings defense forced a season-high seven takeaways. The Vikings would be a Wild Card team if the season ended today.

Green Bay leads the NFC North at 11-3 and can clinch the division with a win. The Packers have already clinched a playoff berth.

The Vikings need to win their final two games and have the Packers lose out in order to claim the NFC North.

Minnesota can clinch a playoff spot with a win Monday but would also be in with a 49ers win over the Rams on Saturday night.

Here’s a look at the Vikings Week 16 matchup against the Packers:

Passing: Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers put up similar numbers in Week 15 as both quarterbacks led their team to a win.

Cousins completed 19 of 25 passes (76 percent) for 207 yards with a touchdown and an interception for a passer rating of 96.6.

Cousins has now completed 291 of 413 passes (70.5 percent) for 3,481 yards with 25 touchdowns and five interceptions. His passer rating of 111.1 ranks third in the NFL.

Rodgers, meanwhile, completed 16 of 33 passes (48.5 percent) for 203 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. His passer rating was 78.2.

Rodgers has now completed 300 of 474 passes (63.3 percent) for 3,463 yards with 24 touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating of 100.4 is tied for ninth in the NFL.

Rodgers is 12-8-1 in 21 career regular-season starts against the Vikings.

Rushing: The Vikings ran for 137 yards against the Chargers but lost running back Dalvin Cook in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.

Cook, who ran for 27 yards on nine carries, was replaced by Mike Boone, who excelled in that role with 56 yards and his first two career scores on 13 carries.

Ameer Abdullah had 25 yards on five carries. The Vikings were also without rookie Alexander Mattison, who missed the game with an ankle injury.

Cook leads the Vikings with 1,135 rushing yards and 13 scores. Minnesota ranks fourth in the NFL with 135.9 rushing yards per game.

Green Bay ranks 17th in the NFL with 106.6 rushing yards per game.

Aaron Jones had 51 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Jamaal Williams added 26 yards on eight attempts.

Jones has a team-high 830 rushing yards and is tied for the league lead with 14 rushing touchdowns.

Receiving: Stefon Diggs set a new career-high Sunday, as he had four receptions for 76 yards to surpass the 1,000-yard mark.

Diggs now has a personal-best 1,073 receiving yards on 60 catches. He also has five scores.

Kyle Rudolph (48 yards), Adam Thielen (27 yards), Cook (16 yards) and C.J. Ham (13 yards) each had three catches on Sunday. Rookie Irv Smith, Jr., had two catches for eight yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.

Cook has 53 catches for 519 yards, while Rudolph has 38 receptions for 360 yards and is tied with Thielen with six touchdowns. Thielen, who made his return from a hamstring injury, has 30 catches for 418 yards in nine games in 2019.

Davante Adams had seven catches for 103 yards and a score to lead the Packers with more than half of their receiving total.

Jake Kumerow had a 49-yard catch, while Geronimo Allison (19 yards) and Allen Lazard (14 yards) each had two catches.

Adams leads Green Bay with 63 catches for 788 yards, and he has four scores. Williams has a team-high five touchdown catches, while Jones and tight end Jimmy Graham have three scores apiece.

Defense: The Vikings defense was dominant Sunday, forcing a whopping seven turnovers, the most in a game since 1994.

Danielle Hunter had two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, while Harrison Smith had an interception and a fumble recovery. Shamar Stephen and Eric Kendricks forced fumbles, and Ifeadi Odenigbo and Trae Waynes had fumble recoveries.

Odenigbo picked up his fumble and raced 56 yards for his first-career score.

Mike Hughes’ first pick of the season was turnover No. 6, and Anthony Harris capped off the wild day with another interception.

Minnesota is now plus-11 in turnovers, tied for the fourth-best in the league. The Vikings allowed 345 total yards and recorded three sacks by Hunter, Odenigbo and Jaleel Johnson.

Hunter leads the Vikings with 13.5 sacks in 2019, while Harris leads the Vikings with five interceptions.

The Vikings are now 14th with 338.9 yards allowed per game and are tied for sixth in points allowed at 18.5.

Green Bay has allowed 371.3 yards per game, which ranks 23rd. The unit’s 20.2 points allowed per game ranks ninth.

The Packers allowed 415 yards but just 13 points to Chicago at home. Dean Lowry and Jaire Alexander had interceptions for Green Bay, which sacked Mitchell Trubisky three times.

Preston Smith has a team-high 11.5 sacks for the Packers, while Za’Darius Smith has 10 sacks.

Vikings Roster in Photos
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster for the 2019 season.

Special teams: The Vikings had a mostly solid day on special teams in getting their 10th win.

Dan Bailey missed his first extra-point attempt but made the next two. He was also true on four field goals of 26, 44, 38 and 27 yards. Bailey is now 22 of 24 on field goals (91.2 percent) and 38 of 42 on extra points in 2019.

Vikings punter Britton Colquitt averaged 51.5 yards on two punts and did not record a touchback. He has averaged 44.2 yards per punt this season.

Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson also came up with a big special teams play in the second half when he tipped a punt a play after the grounding penalty. Wilson doesn’t get credit for a block on the play because the ball traveled 26 yards before landing at the L.A. 41.

Mason Crosby made all three extra points Sunday. He is now 16 of 17 on field goals (94.1 percent) and 38 of 38 on extra points in 2019.

Packers punter J.K. Scott averaged 35.7 yards on seven punts, with two of them landing inside the 20-yard line. Scott averages 43.7 yards per punt.

Neither team has a kickoff or punt return for a touchdown in 2019.

A quick glance

Here is the NFC playoff picture as of Monday morning:

1. Seattle (11-3)

2. Green Bay (11-3)

3. New Orleans (10-3)

4. Dallas (7-7)

5. San Francisco (11-3)

6. Minnesota (10-4)

The Saints play on Monday Night Football against the Colts to wrap up Week 15.

The Rams are still in the Wild Card hunt at 8-6. Los Angeles would get in if the Rams win out and the Vikings lose out.

Key games in the NFC playoff field in Week 16 include the following:

-Rams at 49ers (Saturday)

-Cowboys at Eagles

-Saints at Titans

-Cardinals at Seahawks

-Packers at Vikings (Monday)

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MINNEAPOLIS — If the Vikings are to make a deep run in the NFC Playoffs, they will have to do so on the road.

Minnesota’s bid for an undefeated 2019 campaign at home come to a close Monday night, as Green Bay earned a 23-10 win in Week 16.

The Vikings, who are now 10-5, are locked into the sixth seed — the NFC’s second and final Wild Card spot. Minnesota would have been the fifth seed, and play at the winner of the NFC East, by winning their final two games.

The Vikings clinched a playoff spot Saturday night with a Rams loss to the 49ers.

Green Bay clinched the NFC North and moved to 12-3 with its win. The Packers also snapped a three-game losing streak at U.S. Bank Stadium with their first ever victory at the venue that opened in 2016.

The Vikings close out the regular season at home in Week 17 against the Bears.

Here are four more takeaways from Monday night:

1. A missed opportunity

Stefon Diggs wants his first NFL pass attempt back.

The Vikings faced third-and-4 at the Packers 42-yard line with just under three minutes left in the second quarter.

Minnesota ran a toss to the left with Mike Boone, only to have the running back pitch the ball to Diggs on a reverse … with a wide-open Kirk Cousins streaking down the right sideline.

Diggs misfired on the pass and shouldered the blame after the game.

“Terrible pass … [Cousins] did a great job. I should have set my feet,” Diggs said. “Good play call. If I could go back in time right now, I’d probably run [the play] again.

“It was a great play call. It was wide open, I just missed the throw,” Diggs added.

2. Loss of linebackers

The Vikings linebackers depth took a massive hit Monday night, as both Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr left the game with injuries.

Kendricks was injured late in the second quarter on a play where he recovered a fumble forced by Harrison Smith. The linebacker picked up the ball near midfield but gingerly attempted a return.

It was announced that Kendricks, who had two fumble recoveries on the night, suffered a quad injury.

Barr left the game a little more that midway through the fourth quarter with a knee injury. He was injured on an 18-yard pass by the Packers.

On the ensuing play without the linebacker who makes the defensive play calls, Green Bay ripped off a 56-yard touchdown run to go ahead by double digits.

Eric Wilson, Kentrell Brothers and Cam Smith stepped in for the duo, with Wilson relaying the defensive calls.

3. No answer for Adams

Davante Adams didn’t score a touchdown Monday night, be he produced a big game against the Vikings secondary.

The Packers wide receiver tied his career high with 13 catches, and racked up 116 yards on Monday Night Football.

Adams produced a pair of big games against the Vikings in 2019, as he tallied 20 receptions for 220 yards in a pair of Packers wins.

View game action images as the Vikings take on the Packers on Monday Night Football.

4. Cousins under pressure

The Vikings offense gained a season-low 139 yards Monday, a stat that wasn’t helped by the fact that Cousins was sacked five times.

Minnesota had allowed just eight sacks in its past six games before the Vikings offensive line was under siege against the Packers.

The Vikings allowed four of the five sacks in the second half as Cousins dropped back to pass 22 times after halftime.

Minnesota’s offensive line has played well in wins, allowing just 15 sacks in 10 Vikings victories in 2019. But the unit has given up 13 sacks in five losses, including a combined 11 sacks in division losses to Chicago and Green Bay.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Danielle Hunter’s legacy had been crescendoing into elite territory long before the Vikings’ defensive end became the youngest player in NFL history to record 50 career sacks.

Hunter, who was 25 years and 40 days old on Sunday, reached the milestone on the third play of Minnesota’s 20-7 win over the Detroit Lions when he dropped rookie backup quarterback David Blough for a 6-yard loss. The former third-round pick surpassed the record previously set by Robert Quinn, who reached his 50th sack at the age of 25 years and 167 days.

“Danielle is a beast,” Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks said. “I’m proud of that guy, which is why I had to embellish on that. He works hard and knows his skill set. He is truly a team player and really cares about the next guy, so it’s no surprise he’s having the success he’s having.”

The defensive end, who was drafted by Minnesota out of LSU in 2015, recorded two additional sacks Sunday. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Vikings’ defense pressured Blough on just 11 of his 45 dropbacks (24%), their fourth-lowest rate of the season. But they made their pass-rushing efforts count as Blough was 0-of-6 with an interception and five sacks on those plays.

Hunter now has 12.5 sacks in 13 games (ranked fourth) and leads all NFL defenders in total pressures. The 25-year-old is the third Viking to record 50 sacks in his first five seasons with the team, joining Jared Allen (74) and Keith Millard (53).

Perhaps the easiest of Hunter’s three sacks in Week 14 was his first, when the defensive end was isolated one-on-one with Lions tight end Jesse James. Those types of mismatches, Hunter says, have occurred often this year and give him extra motivation to win the matchup because, “he’s not a tackle, he’s more of [a pass-catcher] so when you go out there and get a one-on-one with a tight end, you just try to beat him quickly.”

“Most of these teams don’t want to get blitzed,” coach Mike Zimmer said of those matchups. “So that’s their way to help, help in protection and things like that. So, you know, pick your poison.”

In five seasons with the Vikings, Hunter has amassed 52.5 sacks. Earlier this season, the DE earned the recognition of having the most career sacks by age 25 with 48, setting that mark in October when he brought down quarterbacks five times in a four-game stretch.

Still in the infancy of his career, Hunter is regarded as one of the most explosive pass-rushers in the NFL. Yet Hunter refuses to let himself think about where his ceiling is currently and how much further he has to go.

“No, I only think about the ‘now’ moment,” Hunter said. “I think about what I need to do now to help my team in order to win games and in order to put my teammates in position to make plays.”

Hunter was quick to bestow credit on his teammates for setting himself up for a monster day against the Lions. He now has 11.0 career sacks against Detroit, which is more than any other opponent in his career.

“Sometimes they’ll have a chipper on the other side or a chipper on my side,” Hunter said. “If Griff’s [Everson Griffen] hot, they’ll set the chipper up on his side and then it’ll leave [a] one-on-one on the left side of the line, over the middle of the line and all that. It all comes back down to the DBs and the linebackers whenever they cover their guys and have the quarterback hold the ball.”

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The New Orleans Saints haven’t been afraid to express themselves over the years, especially when it comes to describing their opponents. While New Orleans players have been relatively quiet this year, Pro Bowl defensive end Cam Jordan opened Pandora’s box when asked about the Minnesota Vikings and their upcoming wild-card matchup.

While appearing on “The Rich Eisen Show,” Jordan answered a question about whether the outcome against the Vikings would depend on how healthy Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook is for the game.

Jordan deferred the question for the most part, but he laughed as he offered a few words on his evaluation of Minnesota’s quarterback.

Jordan: “The issue is knowing what kind of Kirk Cousins you’re gonna get”

Eisen: “So what do you mean by that, Cam?”

Jordan: “At times he looks to be a very proficient quarterback.”

Jordan stopped after that comment, but that could be the statement that motivates Cousins ahead of his second playoff start. Cousins ended his regular season with a 10-5 record, completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,603 yards, 26 touchdowns and six interceptions for a 107.4 passer rating (a career-high). While Cousins is in the midst of his best season, he still struggles in primetime games, including an 0-9 record in “Monday Night Football.” In “late” time slots (7 p.m. or later), Cousins is 7-15 while completing 67.7 percent of his passes for 40 touchdowns and 18 interceptions for a 98.2 rating.

The last time Cousins had a defensive player take a shot against his play was when linebacker Zach Brown proclaimed “the weakest part of their offense is him.” Cousins would go on to complete 22 of 29 passes for 333 yards, four touchdowns, one interception and a 138.4 passer rating in a 38-20 win and the Eagles released Brown days later. The Vikings are hoping for more of the same this Sunday.

Jordan was dismissive when asked about the Minnesota Miracle — the Case Keenum Hail Mary play to Stefon Diggs that knocked the Saints out of the playoffs two seasons ago (the last time the Saints and Vikings met in the playoffs).

“That was two teams ago and like five quarterbacks ago for them, right?,” Jordan said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Cousins was the replacement for Keenum, who signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent in the following offseason. In two seasons with the Vikings, Cousins has completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 56 touchdowns and 16 interceptions with a 103.0 rating.

Jordan’s comments may motivate Cousins and the Vikings Sunday as they look to become the third consecutive No. 6 seed to win in the NFC wild-card round.

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We’ve gotten the second injury report of the week for the Minnesota Vikings as they prepare for their Wild Card weekend matchup against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

We’ll go through it here in a bit, but for now here is the full report from today’s session:

Did Not Practice
CB Mackensie Alexander (knee)
S Andrew Sendejo (illness)
DE Stephen Weatherly (illness)
Limited Participation
CB Mike Hughes (neck, downgrade from full)
LB Eric Kendricks (quad, upgrade from DNP)
DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (hamstring)
Full Participation
RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder)
S Jayron Kearse (foot)
RB Alexander Mattison (ankle)
CB Xavier Rhodes (ankle)
DT Shamar Stephen (knee)
A couple of big stories from this one, both involving guys who were limited in practice on Thursday.

The first one is that linebacker Eric Kendricks practiced for the first time since the lead-up to the Green Bay game on Thursday, as he took part in some individual drills. We’ll have to see if he continues to progress on Friday when the final report comes out.

Mike Hughes, on the other hand, was downgraded to limited after being a full participant on Wednesday. Hughes is dealing with a neck injury, and I’m not sure when he suffered that injury, exactly. With Mackensie Alexander continuing to sit out of practice with a knee issue and now Hughes dealing with this, the Vikings’ cornerback group suddenly looks even more suspect.

On the bright side, it doesn’t appear that the illness that Sendejo and Weatherly are dealing with has spread. . .yet.

(knocks firmly on nearest wooden object)

That’s your injury report for Thursday, folks. We’ll have the final injury report here for your perusal at around this time tomorrow.

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EAGAN — When the Minnesota Vikings came out of halftime without veteran left tackle Riley Reiff, there was cause for concern.

Not only has Reiff put together a strong season at one of the most valuable positions in the sport but his assignment was largely former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. But experienced swing tackle Rashod Hill came off the bench and allowed zero sacks, zero QB hits and zero pressures (per PFF) in the second half.

“I think Rashod (Hill) has proven to be very versatile,” offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski said. “He’s our swing tackle, so he has to be ready to go in on the right side, on the left side. You saw in that game he came in and I thought performed pretty well. Riley’s a captain of this team, certainly want him out there. If he’s not available to go, that’s why you have backups that are on point like Rashod like he showed this last week. Rashod is certainly a guy that we’ve leaned on. He’s came in during a game before. He’s come in during the week. He’s really taken the bit as being a player that is always ready to go.”

Monday night’s game wasn’t the first time that Hill has been asked to jump up off the bench and stop a quality pass rusher. Against Philadelphia he entered in relief of Reiff and had the same results: Zero pressures on Kirk Cousins. In 85 total snaps Hill is yet to give up so much as a QB hurry.

“It’s good to have him, he can play both sides,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “Need guys like that.”

The Vikings may need him to continue his quality play if Reiff can’t go this week against the Detroit Lions. The starting left tackle missed Wednesday and Thursday’s practices.

For a swing tackle who was undrafted and signed off Jacksonville’s practice squad in 2016, Hill has a good amount of NFL experience. He has 1,400 total snaps, 882 of which have come at right tackle, 493 on the left side and a handful as an extra lineman. Last season he won the starting job over Brian O’Neill — who hasn’t allowed a sack all season — but eventually saw the second-round pick in 2018 take over the starting gig.

Swing tackles who can be trusted on both sides against good competition are hard to find in the NFL. That’s why the Vikings gave him a $2 million deal as a restricted free agent this offseason rather than drafting a replacement or signing someone on the cheap. That decision could pay dividends if he has to start down the stretch as he did in 2017.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

— With Ron Rivera out in Carolina, the Panthers are already being connected to Kevin Stefanski as a possible replacement. The Panthers bumped up Scott Turner to offensive coordinator for the final four games in order to give him a shot at being the next OC. If they want to keep him on, that would even strengthen the possibility of hiring Stefanski since the two worked together in Minnesota.

“Excited for him,” Stefanski said. “Never good in this business when people are losing jobs to get an opportunity that way, that’s not the fun way to do it, but any of us and you’re getting your first opportunity to call plays, I think is exciting. I think you have to lean on your assistant coaches. I think he has a really group down there to help him out.”

— The Vikings drafted Armon Watts with hopes he could be a development project. With the few opportunities he’s gotten due to injuries, the former Arkansas DT has been a noticeable presence. With Linval Joseph coming back quickly from injury, we may see more of Watts in the rotation.

“He’s really done a nice job in the run game,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “He’s done a nice job. He tipped a pass last week that ended up going for an interception, so he’s really shown an ability to be able to go and adjust and adapt to what it is we’re asking him to do. He’s been pretty successful with what we’re asking him to do.”

— With the Bears beating the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football, all of the sudden Week 17 between the Vikings and Bears looks more interesting. Chicago is still 1.5 games back of the Vikings but the Bears would have a tiebreaker because of the Week 4 game at Soldier Field. Chicago plays Green Bay next week with an extra few days rest.

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When Vikings fullback C.J. Ham laces up his cleats Sunday morning, he’ll feel a little extra motivation – and emotion – ahead of taking the field at U.S. Bank Stadium.

It’s not because this weekend’s game is a divisional matchup and a hopeful bounce-back for Minnesota after a tough loss to Seattle on Monday Night Football.

Rather, C.J.’s custom-designed kicks for the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats game feature a portrait of his mother, Tina, who currently is fighting pancreatic cancer.

C.J. surprised Tina with the cleats after a recent Saturday morning walk-through. Sharing the first look, mother and son each were taken aback by the detail as they lifted the box’s lid and picked up the shoes.

C.J. Ham Surprises His Mom with His “My Cause, My Cleats”
Vikings running back C.J. Ham surprised his mother with his cleats for “My, Cause, My Cleats.”

On one, Tina is painted with a wide smile and in Vikings gear, a photograph snapped pregame at the Crucial Catch game in October; You are the strongest person in the world is written in white across the toe. The other reads, I love you, Mom. A purple ribbon for pancreatic cancer wraps across the outside panel of each cleat.

“These are made specifically for you,” C.J. told Tina. “I know you’ve been through a lot in this past year, and I just wanted to make these special for you.”

“They’re so cute,” she said, breaking into a matching smile.

C.J.’s cleats represent the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which is dedicated to fighting “the world’s toughest cancer” through research, clinical initiatives, patient services and advocacy.

Tina was diagnosed in March 2018 initially with Stage 2 pancreatic cancer, but surgery revealed that it actually was Stage 4.

C.J. has been inspired by his mother and felt strongly about dedicating Sunday’s game to her ongoing battle.

“With everything she’s been through, staying strong this entire time, I just wanted to honor her,” he explained. “I love my mom, and I just want to do all I can for her.”

He gave Tina a hug and kiss and then was joined by his wife, Stephanie, and daughters, Skylar and Stella.

“That’s Granny!” Skylar exclaimed excitedly, pointing to the portrait.

“It’s way better than I even imagined. Words can’t even really explain,” C.J. said. “Just the portrait itself – there’s so much strength in that picture.

“She truly is the strongest person I know, and I know when I’m wearing these cleats, it’s going to help me,” he added, his voice wavering.

As the family continued to admire the uniquely designed cleats, Tina reiterated how much she loved them.

“But I don’t get to wear them,” she said, laughing.

“No, you don’t get to wear them,” C.J. agreed with a smile. “But I get to wear them for you.”

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The Vikings got a key part of their defense on the practice field for the first time this week on Thursday.

Linebacker Eric Kendricks has been sidelined by a quadricep injury of late, but multiple reports from the open portion of Thursday’s practice have him on the field for the first time since Week 16.

Kendricks played at least 86 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in every game until he was injured against the Packers. He had 110 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 12 passes defended in his 15 starts.

Cornerback Mackensie Alexander (knee), safety Andrew Sendejo (illness) and defensive end Stephen Weatherly (illness) missed practice for the second straight day.

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EAGAN, Minn. – It’s never ideal to have key pieces of your roster sidelined, but the Vikings always have a plan in place.

The Vikings announced that Adam Thielen, who suffered a hamstring injury in Week 7 during 2019’s first meeting between the Vikings and Lions, is doubtful for Sunday’s matchup.

Two other starters – left tackle Riley Reiff and running back Dalvin Cook – left Monday night’s game with injuries. Reiff (concussion) is designated as questionable; Cook, who has maintained confidence throughout the week that he will play Sunday, did not receive a status and should be good to go.

But regardless of who’s in the lineup come Sunday at noon, the Vikings coaching staff will be ready with a game plan.

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski spoke with Twin Cities media members on Thursday and explained the approach.

“You always sit there on Monday and Tuesday, and you’re working with the training staff on who they think might be available, so you’re putting a plan together and you have a, ‘If this guy is ready, we’ll do it out of this formation, and if he’s not, it’ll be this formation,’ ” Stefanski said. “So, it’s certainly something that we’re talking about throughout the week, and even on game day you have to have those conversations.

“Luckily, I have a really good coaching staff that can help me through that and say, ‘All right, hey, we’ve lost this guy, now we’re out of that personnel group. Now the next time you want to do that, let’s do it out of this personnel group,’ ” he added.

If Reiff isn’t able to play this weekend, tackle Rashod Hill would get the nod in his place.

Since the Vikings signed him off the Jaguars practice squad in 2016, Hill has played in 39 games for Minnesota and made 15 starts.

Stefanski highlighted Hill’s versatility as a swing tackle who prepares throughout the season to step in on the right or left side, depending on where he’s needed.

“You saw in that game [against the Seahawks] he came in, and I thought he performed pretty well,” Stefanski said of Hill. “Riley’s a captain of this team, [and we] certainly want him out there. If he’s not available to go, that’s why you have backups that are on point like Rashod, like he showed this last week.

“Rashod is certainly a guy that we’ve leaned on,” Stefanski added. “He’s come in during a game before. He’s come in during the week. He’s really taken the bit as being a player that is always ready to go.”

Injury Report

The Vikings on Friday announced that Thielen (hamstring) is doubtful, and Reiff (concussion) is questionable.

DT Linval Joseph (knee), RB Dalvin Cook (chest), DE Everson Griffen (knee), DT Shamar Stephen, LB Eric Wilson (shoulder) and S Harrison Smith (hamstring) were not given a status on Friday’s report and are likely ready to go.

The Lions ruled out DL Da’Shawn Hand (ankle) and QB Matthew Stafford (hip/back).

DE Austin Bryan (hip) is doubtful, and CBs Jamal Agnew and Rashaan Melvin are each questionable.

DT Damon Harrison, Sr., (calf/knee/resting vet) and P Sam Martin (abdomen) did not receive a status and likely will play on Sunday.

Fan Mail

How is our practice squad doing? Anybody there “coming on”? In particular, offensive linemen?

– Gary

The Vikings currently have just one offensive lineman on the practice squad in center John Keenoy. He was with the team in training camp but came back last month. Aviante Collins had been on the practice squad for most of the season, but he was recently elevated to the 53-man roster.

Some names to keep an eye on might be tight end Brandon Dillon, who originally made the 53-man roster out of camp, and defensive end Stacy Keely, who could show growth next year in OTAs and training camp.

Thanks for the support, and SKOL!

Quotable

“This is just about the next game. It’s about getting back on track. Stacking good play together and building some momentum leading into that potential playoff run. The only thing we’re trying to do is get a ticket to the dance; once we get in, it’s anyone’s game. It’s about whatever team shows up to play on that given Saturday, Sunday, Monday – I don’t even care what day it is. The only thing we want is a ticket in, and then we’re going to take care of business.”

– DE Stephen Weatherly on if there’s a “higher sense of urgency” this week

Last chance! Vote to help make sure all your favorite Vikings make the 2020 Pro Bowl in Orlando. Voting ends Dec. 12, 2019.

Cook and Company could play a key role for the Vikings on Sunday.

Minnesota is 6-1 when gaining at least 150 net yards rushing.

Against Detroit in Week 7, the Vikings racked up 166 yards on the ground. Dalvin Cook led the way with 25 carries for 142 yards and two touchdowns. If he in any way has a limited workload, however, the Vikings have equal confidence in rookie running back Alexander Mattison, Ameer Abdullah and Mike Boone.

“I think you saw at the end of this last ballgame we didn’t have Dalvin. and we’re in a two-minute throwing session and not much changes,” Stefanski said. “We look at it as our backups know the game plan cold, and they’re ready to go. Are they the same player as a Dalvin Cook? No. We understand that, but we’re not going to limit ourselves and what we can do without any one of our players.”

Broadcast Info

TV BROADCAST

FOX (KMSP in the Twin Cities)

Play-by-Play: Thom Brennaman

Analyst: Chris Spielman

Sideline Reporter: Shannon Spake

LOCAL RADIO

KFAN (100.3-FM/KTLK 1130-AM in Minneapolis/St. Paul)

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen

Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman & Ben Leber

Radio Pre-game Show: Mike Mussman | 10 a.m. (CT)

KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the five-state Vikings Radio Network.

SATELLITE RADIO

Sirius: DEN 133 or Streaming 809; MIN 81 or Streaming 819

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Custom Pat Elflein Jersey Large

Vikings guard Pat Elflein is in his third NFL season but first under Minnesota’s current offensive coaching staff.

Elflein believes this new system best-fits Minnesota’s roster and gives its offensive playmakers a chance to shine.

The Vikings enter tonight’s game ranked fourth in rushing yards per game (135.9), second in passing yards per play (8.03) and fourth in interception rate (1.21).

“It lets Dalvin [Cook] get the ball in his hands and pretty much run the ball where he wants to. It lets Kirk [Cousins] get out in space a little bit and take some shots, and it allows us linemen to run block … to really attack some defenses with the run game,” Elflein said. “I feel like we’re on the attack.”

Asked what makes the Vikings offensive line group special, Elflein pointed to the coaches, as well as veteran left tackle Riley Reiff.

“Riley is our leader; I think it starts there – really having a blue-collar work mentality,” he said. “Every time we come to practice or come to the weight room or go to meetings, we’re locked in, and we’re about our business. But we also have a lot of fun together, too. I feel like we have a good balance of both.”

Added Elflein: “We take pride in that.”

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We caught up with Pat to chat about pounding the beef, spreading holiday cheer and – of course – mullets.

Q: Dalvin Cook is headed to his first Pro Bowl; how much pride do you take in that?

A: “We’re so happy that Dalvin made the Pro Bowl. From where he’s been … through injuries and a lot of things he’s had to deal with, for him to come back from that and make the Pro Bowl, it’s a testament to what type of person he is, what type of player, his resiliency, and just the flat-out talent he has. With and without the football, he’s an incredible player. We’re happy for him, and I know he’s definitely earned it.”

Q: How fun is it when he gives the football to a lineman to spike after he scores?

A: “It’s awesome. Dalvin’s sharing the love. He’s scoring touchdowns, getting all that, and for him to give the ball to us to have a little fun with it, too, it just makes it fun. Something to look forward to, an opportunity to let a little personality show. And it’s a bonding moment, too; we all get excited for each other when we score and get to do something like that.”

Q: Has there been a top spike this season?

A: “Yeah – all of mine.”

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Q: ‘Pound the Beef’ has become a popular phrase – tell me about that.

A: “Basically, it just means pounding the rock, running the football. It just kind of evolved into what we do on Sundays when we’re able to run the ball and really impose our will. Pound the beef. Pound the rock.”

Q: And even Kirk gets in on it sometimes, right?

A: “Yeah. Sometimes he’ll carry it, and he’ll pound some beef, too. We’ll let him know he’s poundin’. Oh yeah.”

Q: Christmas is soon; what’s the best Christmas gift you’ve gotten?

A: “It had to be when I was a kid, and my mom got us an X-box; I was pretty pumped about that.”

Q: Your last name is a fun one around the holidays; how fun was the Elf Line video last year?

A: “And we did one at the mall recently, too. Gettin’ in the Christmas spirit is fun and something that I’ve always done, and as an O-line, we like to get into the Christmas spirit. I have the last name that kind of goes along with it, so anytime I get to play along with that and spread some Christmas cheer, I’m all about it. It’s fun.”

Q: Which is more fun? Dressing up as an elf or as Mario for the Kids Club Halloween party?

A: “Those were both pretty good. When I was Mario, [right tackle] Brian O’Neill was Luigi, so it was fun to kind of tag-team that one. But, we actually dressed up as elves together, too, at the mall. Dressing up as elves is pretty fun – everyone gets a kick out of that for the holidays.”

Q: In all seriousness, why is a positive presence in the community important to you?

A: “It’s an awesome community. As Vikings players, we feel the utmost support from the fans all season, even in the offseason. The city, the fans, the people here have our back – and it shows on game day. So … to make someone’s day, to make someone’s holiday, whatever we can do to do that, we love it. We love giving back. We did the Halloween party, we did the Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, we were spreading Christmas cheer at the mall. Anytime we get a chance to do that, we always take advantage.”

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Q: Tell me a little about the facial hair you have going on here.

A: “Oh, the ’stache? It’s just kind of grown into a style that I’ve been embracing this year. I don’t really know where it came from, but I’m just rocking this mustache right now, and I feel like I can’t shave it. I just can’t do it right now. I like to get cleaned up, too, get a nice haircut and be clean-shaven – but right now, I just can’t. I’m wearing this mustache until the time is right.”

Q: Brian O’Neill told me to ask you about the mullet, too.

A: “Oh, yeah, I’ve got a mullet going, too, trying to grow the back out. I’ve always been a fan of Joe Dirt, and then the Kurt Dirt thing kind of came around, and I was just like, ‘I’m growing a mullet.’ So that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Q: Do you think you’ll get to keep it for your wedding in April?

A: “Not a chance. There’s a zero-percent chance of keeping it for the wedding. It’ll be fun while it lasts.”