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DeAndre Hopkins Next Stern Challenge for Vikings Defense

Know the Houston Texans key contributors on offense, defense and special teams heading into the game on Sunday.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — It's another week, and another stern test for the Vikings defense.

Minnesota has faced a litany of offensive superstars of late, ranging from two-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers to reigning league MVP Cam Newton to two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.

This week's challenge? Houston wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has caught 256 passes for 3,760 yards and 21 touchdowns in his first 52 games.

Vikings safety Harrison Smith said every team presents challenging offensive players.

"Usually there's more than one," Smith said. "That's just how it goes in the NFL."

The Vikings rank second in the NFL in both points allowed (12.5) and sacks (15) through their 4-0 start.

Minnesota, which leads the league with a plus-10 turnover margin, is one of three teams with an unblemished record.

But what makes those numbers even more impressive is who they've come against.

In Week 2, Rodgers posted a 70.7 passer rating, the lowest of his career in 17 games against the Vikings.

In Week 3, Newton was sacked eight times and picked off three times.

And in Week 4, Manning compiled a 63.6 passer rating and completed just 55.5 percent of his passes, his worst statistical game of the 2016 season.

Minnesota also limited Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. to three catches and a career-low 23 yards.

Vikings coaches and players said they only stat they care about on Sundays are wins.

"We don't go out there to get guys and say, 'We're not going to let them get catches or touchdowns,' or anything like that," said Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray. "We tell them to compete, and if you compete at a high level, then eventually at the end of the day the storyline may be written like this, but we don't talk about the storyline.

"We talk about just winning the game, and it just so happened that those guys we're competing against don't get touchdowns or they have career lows and stuff like that," he added. "But we don't go into meetings and say, 'We're going to shut this guy out,' because if you give up one catch, you didn't shut him out."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said his defense always has a game plan for a team's top wide out or playmaker, even if it's not the same design every week.

"There's a combination of things…different looks, different disguises, different coverages," Zimmer said. "Sometimes you're trying to be physical with them at the line, sometimes it's help over the top.

"We're fortunate we have smart guys," he added. "And especially with the safeties, they communicate good with the things we're trying to get done."

Smith said Hopkins, a first-round pick in 2013 who has recorded a catch in all 52 games of his career, will present a challenge unlike any the Vikings have seen so far this season.

"He's just a playmaker," Smith said. "He can run, he can jump, he's got great ball skills. He can catch any ball thrown his way and has a huge catch radius.

"He goes up and gets it," he added. "Arguably the best catcher that I've seen on film. And that's ever since he's been in the league … just making big-time catches. People just talk about him more and more now."

Sunday presents another test for Smith and the Vikings defense. But it's one they're excited to tackle.

"I think we embrace that," Smith said. "You always want to play against the best.

"Each week you're going against somebody who's in that conversation," he added. "You just have to raise your game up each week."

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