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Previewing the Jets opposition: Minnesota Vikings

Arizona Cardinals v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The banged-up Jets have a chance to move to 4-3 at home on Sunday, but it won’t be easy, as they face off against Minnesota. The Vikings are 3-2-1 on the season, but they’ve faced a tough schedule. They beat the Eagles, tied with the Packers and handed Jimmy Garoppolo his first loss as a starter. In one of their two losses, they only lost by seven to the Rams, but they also got blown out in Buffalo.

Let’s review how their roster shapes up:


The big story on Sunday is Kirk Cousins, who probably would have become the Jets’ starting quarterback in the offseason had he wanted to. The Vikings eventually signed Cousins, leaving the Jets to embark upon the contingency plan that ultimately ended with Sam Darnold becoming their starter.

Cousins is off to a strong start as he’s posted a quarterback rating of 102.7 with 12 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. However, he’s fumbled six times - losing five - in the last four games.

Former Bronco Trevor Siemian is the backup with another former Bronco, Kyle Sloter, as the number three.

Offensive line

The Vikings have effectively rebuilt their offensive line over the past few years, but will be without one of their best linemen on Sunday.

Left tackle and former 2012 first rounder Riley Reiff missed last week’s game and has been ruled out with a foot injury. With Reiff out, Rashod Hill shifted over from right tackle to left tackle, but gave up two sacks against Arizona. Rookie Brian O’Neill - a great athlete - filled in at right tackle for his first NFL start.

Inside, last year’s first round pick Pat Elflein is at center with Tom Compton and former right tackle Mike Remmers either side of him. The Vikings have had issues in preventing interior pressure, with Remmers in particular struggling in pass protection.

Veteran Brett Jones and last year’s fifth rounder Danny Isidora provide depth off the bench.

Running Backs

The Vikings will be without Dalvin Cook, who has had an injury-plagued start to his career. However, Latavius Murray is coming off a big game which saw him rack up 155 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals.

Rookies Mike Boone and Roc Thomas haven’t seen much action yet in reserve. The blocking back is CJ Ham, who has also caught eight passes.


Cousins has some terrific weapons to throw to as Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have established themselves as one of the league’s best pass catching duos. Thielen in particular is having a monster year, as he’s leading the league in receiving yards. Diggs is also making a bid for his first thousand-yard season having come close in each of the last few years.

Their next most productive receiver is former first round pick Laquon Treadwell, who only caught 21 passes in his first two seasons, but already has 19 this season. Journeyman Aldrick Robinson is available for depth.

At tight end, pro bowler Kyle Rudolph caught 57 passes, including eight touchdowns, last season. He’s backed up by David Morgan - an excellent blocker - and promising rookie Tyler Conklin.

Defensive line

The Vikings defensive line has taken a hit because their star pass rusher Everson Griffen has been away from the team following some troubling off-field incidents. However, in his absence, Danielle Hunter has stepped up with seven sacks, matching his total from last year. Youngster Stephen Weatherly has done a solid job on the other edge too.

On the inside, the Vikings are also formidable with ex-Jet Sheldon Richardson making his return to Metlife Stadium alongside two-time pro bowler Linval Joseph, who rumbled for a key touchdown in the win over the Eagles a few weeks ago.

Hunter returned on Friday after having missed practice earlier in the week, as did Joseph.

You can expect Tom Johnson and Jaleel Johnson to rotate in on the interior and rookie Jalyn Holmes to get some reps coming off the edge.


The Vikings have built their linebacker corps through the draft with 2014 first rounder Anthony Barr and 2015 second rounder Eric Kendricks playing an every down role and last year’s fourth rounder Ben Gedeon listed as the other starter. Kendricks is currently leading the team in tackles. Barr has been a pro bowler in each of the last three seasons.

The Vikings spend a lot of the time in sub-packages, which will usually see Gedeon leave the game. Eric Wilson is the primary backup.

Defensive backs

The Vikings are strong at cornerback with former first round picks Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes went to the last two pro bowls.

Rookie Mike Hughes had been looking good, but was just placed on injured reserve. However, Mackensie Alexander has been working as the nickel back. Undrafted rookie Holton Hill and veteran Marcus Sherels provide cover.

Harrison Smith - regarded by many as one of the best safeties in the league - will be quarterbacking the defensive backfield. However, the Vikings will be without Andrew Sendejo - a player who was once in camp with the Jets. With Sendejo out last week, veteran George Iloka got the start. The rangy Jayron Kearse gets reps in sub-packages, often matched up in the slot.

Special teams

The Vikings dumped kicker Daniel Carlson after a bad start to the season, but veteran Dan Bailey has come in to solidify the kicker position, although he has missed two of his 10 field goal attempts.

Their punter is Matt Wile, who entered the season with just four NFL games under his belt. He’s done a reasonably good job so far.

In the return game, the veteran Sherels is currently handling both punts and kicks. He has five career punt return touchdowns.

In coverage, Wilson, Ham and Gedeon are productive players, along with reserve linebacker Kentrell Brothers and backup safety Anthony Harris.