MINNEAPOLIS –It can be argued that 2015 was one of Minnesota's strongest NFL Drafts, and it continues to be reflected every game in the strength of the Vikings rookie corps.
Week 15 was no exception, as a few first-year players had significant roles in the 38-17 win over Chicago.
Stefon Diggs has 2-TD game
On Sunday, Diggs not only scored his first touchdown since Week 8 (also against the Bears), but he recorded a second touchdown as well.
"It was a 'front pocket' as we call it," Diggs said of his first scoring pass, a 15-yarder from Teddy Bridgewater. "Everyone has a front pocket where you keep your pens and your notepads, and that is where he threw it at, and it was the perfect place. You can't ask for more as a receiver than when they put the ball right in your hands, and for that I really pat him on the back."
Diggs finished the game with three receptions for 55 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Moving forward, Diggs said he shares the same focus of the team: to continue playing with the same intensity they have over these past two weeks and play another strong game against the Giants Sunday night.
Danielle Hunter adds 1.5 sacks to strong defensive game
Minnesota's defense gave Bears quarterback Jay Cutler an immense amount of pressure, sacking him five times. Hunter received credit for 1.5 of those sacks, bringing his season total to five. Hunter is now tied for fifth place in season sacks by a rookie. Kenechi Udeze ('04), Dwayne Rudd ('97) and Doug Martin ('80) also had five apiece as rookies in Minnesota.
"I wasn't really paying attention to that [statistic]," Hunter said after the game. "I just went out there and did my job. I did what everybody told me to do, we worked together as a team, just stuff like that – being unselfish."
Fellow defensive end Brian Robison commented on Hunter's performance this year as a whole, saying Hunter has been welcomed by the defensive line and has done a lot of good things for team.
"The thing is, we're not selfish as a group," Robison said. "Each guy has been trying to kind of give him little coaching points all year long, and he's a very fast learner. He studies the game. He has a very bright future ahead for us."
Robison emphasized Hunter's ability to come in on third down and make key plays in games as well as the opportunity he gives the defense to create mismatches for the offensive line.
Hunter said he will use a performance like Sunday to fuel his drive in upcoming games.
"You just have to build on it," he said.
Eric Kendricks, Anthony Harris lend a hand in win
While Diggs and Hunter drew most of the attention for the rookie pool, linebacker Kendricks and safety Harris contributed to the win, as well.
Kendricks made his ninth start of the season, helping solidify a defense that was missing starting DT Linval Joseph, LB Anthony Barr and S Harrison Smith. Kendricks recorded seven total tackles on the game, bringing his season total to 77.
After being activated from the practice squad and making his first career start against the Cardinals on Dec. 10 when the Vikings missed Smith and Andrew Sendejo, Harris started for a second game in a row. He joined Sendejo against the Bears and helped limit Chicago to one pass play of 20 yards. Harris finished with four tackles and two assists, and he also deflected a deep pass that Cutler intended for Alshon Jeffery.