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Lunchbreak: 3 Vikings Defenders Who Stood Out Sunday

There were plenty of frustrating moments on all sides from the Vikings Week 4 loss in Chicago.

But there were some positive takeaways, too, including the play of three players on defense.

Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune took a second look at Sunday’s game and found that defensive ends Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, plus linebacker Eric Kendricks, were each highly effective against the Bears.

Goessling said Kendricks was a key factor in stifling Chicago’s rushing attack.

The linebacker had 12 tackles Sunday, leading all players in the game, and was a big reason the Bears weren’t able to get their run game going after Mitchell Trubisky left. Chicago ran for just 72 yards on 33 carries. Kendricks has 26 solo tackles and seven assists through four games.

Goessling also noted that Hunter and Griffen also played at a high level at Soldier Field.

[Hunter] had the hit that knocked Trubisky out of the game, and applied consistent pressure on Chase Daniel after Trubisky left. When Daniel tried to scramble for a first down on a third-and-3 at the end of the first half, Hunter made a play around the edge of the line of scrimmage to stop him a yard short.

On a day where the Vikings mostly had to settle for pressures against a quarterback intent on getting rid of the ball early, Griffen led the team with a pair of QB hits.

Goessling also pointed out that Vikings cornerback Mike Hughes is providing depth and versatility in his return to the secondary.

Hughes missed the first two games of the season while fully recovering from an ACL injury suffered in Week 6 of the 2018 season.

Fellow cornerback Mackensie Alexander was injured in Week 1 against Atlanta, but made his return in Week 4 against Chicago.

Goessling noted that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer can now mix and match with a cornerback group that includes Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Alexander and Hughes.

Goessling wrote:

Now that the Vikings have Mackensie Alexander back from a dislocated elbow and Hughes back from last year’s torn ACL, they have a wealth of cornerback depth, with three first-round picks and a second-rounder available to Mike Zimmer. They took advantage of it Sunday by employing Hughes in a number of different roles in the third quarter, inserting him at right cornerback for Xavier Rhodes before using him at Trae Waynes’ left cornerback spot two plays later.

Hughes also saw time in Alexander’s nickel cornerback spot. The fact that he is healthy and trustworthy enough to play three spots is a luxury, and as the Vikings work Hughes back into their rotation, it appears they’ll take advantage of his versatility to give their other corners a break and mix up their coverages.

The Vikings are scheduled to get cornerback Holton Hill back after Week 8 as he is currently serving the second of two four-game suspensions.

View exclusive images shot by Vikings team photographer Andy Kenutis as the Vikings and Bears competed against each other in the Week 4 matchup at Soldier Field.

Lewis to be inducted in Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

Former Vikings wide receiver Leo Lewis will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame next month.

Lewis played in 140 regular-season games with Minnesota from 1981 to 1991, recording 182 career catches for 2,924 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also set franchise records for punt returns (193) and punt return yards (1,812) that have been broken by Marcus Sherels.

Lewis was a star player at Columbia Hickman High School and led the school to a state championship in 1974.

He later played at Missouri for four seasons, becoming the only player in program history to lead the Tigers in punt returns for four straight years.

Lewis’ father, Leo Lewis, Jr., will also posthumously be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. The ceremony is set for Nov. 3 in Columbia.

The elder Lewis is already in the Black College Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame. Known as the “Lincoln Locomotive” at Lincoln University, he rushed for 4,457 career yards and was a two-time First-Team All-American.

Lewis, Jr., played 11 seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League and was a six-time All-Pro selection. Lincoln University retired his No. 30 jersey in 2000.

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