Vikings look for season split against rival Packers
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins acknowledges his appreciation for teammates who have publicly lent their support despite his early-season struggles, which include an NFL high-tying 10 interceptions.
Still, Cousins feels such expressions are a bit premature. At 1-5, the Vikings may be reeling, but they’re nonetheless rested, coming off their bye week and primed to seize an opportunity to begin a turnaround with Sunday’s visit to the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers.
“We know what we’re capable of,” Cousins said. “We know what we can do when we’re at our best, and I think we’ve shown that with explosive plays and moving the football and getting a lot of guys involved, both running the ball and throwing the ball. So, we know we can get back to that. What we have to do is do it consistently.”
Green Bay (5-1) can attest to overcoming adversity. After absorbing a lopsided 38-10 loss at Tampa Bay in Week 6, their first defeat of the season, the Packers responded with last week’s 35-20 win at Houston.
Aaron Rodgers steered the Green Bay attack, completing 23-of-34 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns, including two to Davante Adams, who finished with 13 receptions for 196 yards.
“I think he’s done a great job of throwing on rhythm and throwing with anticipation,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of Rodgers. “I think his balance in the pocket is really good. I think when stuff isn’t there, he does a great job of making off-schedule plays.”
The Vikings expect running back Dalvin Cook to return against the Packers. Coach Mike Zimmer said that scenario is likely after Cook returned to practice Wednesday. He has not played since suffering a groin injury in the third quarter of a one-point loss at Seattle in Week 5.
Cook has rushed for 489 yards and seven touchdowns in five games, including two scores in a Week 1 home loss to the Packers. His presence in the Minnesota backfield was among the reasons LaFleur stressed his team couldn’t overlook the Vikings.
“I don’t care what the record says, this is a damn good football team,” LaFleur said. “If you don’t get prepared each and every week in this league, you’re going to get whipped.”
The Vikings have dealt with a banged-up defense.
The team on Wednesday placed starting cornerback Cameron Dantzler on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Additionally, Zimmer confirmed that defensive end Danielle Hunter had successful, season-ending neck surgery Tuesday. Hunter was injured during a non-padded practice in August and had sought a second opinion on the injury. He hasn’t played in 2020.
In Hunter’s absence, the Vikings have employed a rotation including Ifeadi Odenigbo, Jalyn Holmes and Jordan Brailford at defensive end.
The Packers have endured a spate of injuries of late but welcomed several players back to the practice field Wednesday, including wide receiver Allen Lazard (core muscle surgery) and linebacker Christian Kirksey (pectoral), who returned from injured reserve.
Kicker Mason Crosby (left calf/back), running back Aaron Jones (calf) and cornerback Kevin King (quad) did not practice. Fifteen more Packers were limited.
Minnesota ranks 30th in the NFL with a minus-7 turnover margin. At plus-2, Green Bay is tied for ninth.
Green Bay defeated Minnesota 43-34 at U.S. Bank Stadium to open the season. The Packers have won three successive regular season meetings against the Vikings and lead the all-time series 62-53-3.
–Field Level Media