Minnesota was an exceptionally healthy team through the first four weeks of the season, outside of the quarterback position. But since Dalvin Cook went down, the Vikings have had issues getting their full offensive line on the field each week. Sunday’s game tilt with Carolina will be no exception.
Remmers, Morgan out
Vikings right tackle Mike Remmers will miss his fifth consecutive game due to a lower back injury. Remmers missed weeks 10 through 12 after suffering a concussion in week eight against the Browns. He cleared concussion protocol two weeks ago but suffered the back injury the same week he returned to practice. This will be his second game missed as a result of said back trouble. Second-year tackle Rashod Hill will fill in for Remmers as he has the last five weeks. Hill said that Remmers has coached him up on Carolina, where Remmers played the three seasons prior to joining the Vikings.
Tight end David Morgan will also be out Sunday due to a concussion he suffered in last week’s win over the Falcons. After being primarily a blocker the first half of the season, Morgan has taken on a greater role as a pass-catcher on play action, scoring a touchdown in Washington week 10. Blake Bell will presumably take on that greater role against the Panthers tomorrow. Bell has just two targets this season and appears almost exclusively in three tight end sets.
Rookie center Pat Elflein is listed as questionable on the injury report due to an injured shoulder. Either Nick Easton or Joe Berger, who both played center last year for the Vikings, will likely move over from guard in place of Elflein. Jeremiah Sirles would then fill in at guard.
Elflein has been one of the more steady players on the Minnesota offensive line. He leads all rookies in snaps played this year and has rarely, if ever, looked over-matched against some of the league’s elite defensive linemen. STATS has Elflein rated as the 11th-best pass blocking center in the NFL the last six weeks, ahead of Alex Mack and Maurkice Pouncey.
Panthers out one starter and getting a couple back
Carolina linebacker Shaq Thompson will miss Sunday’s game, which will open up some things on the strong side for Minnesota. Thompson injured his foot in last week’s loss to New Orleans.
Additionally, Greg Olsen, Devin Funchess and Ryan Kalil have been listed as questionable, though all are expected to play. Kalil and Olsen have missed most of the season with injuries so with them returning, Minnesota is getting a Panthers team that fans have yet to see in 2017.
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