EAGAN, Minn. — Pat Elflein said Monday that he was ready to start if that’s the role the Vikings had for him Thursday night against the Rams.
The Vikings center will get his wish, as Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer announced Tuesday that Elflein will return to the starting lineup for the first time since the NFC title game in January.
Elflein played 22 snaps in Sunday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium, seeing action in the second and third quarters.
“I thought he did pretty well,” Zimmer said when asked about Elflein. “And yes, he’ll start.”
Elflein and Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins have taken reps together in practice in addition to the nearly two dozen they got against Buffalo.
Cousins said he like the exchanges between the two.
“I thought they were good,” Cousins said. “Obviously with the one fumble on the [shotgun] snap, but I thought other than that it was very clean.”
Elflein, who was inactive the first two games of the season, rehabbed from shoulder and ankle injuries all offseason.
He started 14 games but missed two over the final month of the regular season due to a shoulder injury. The 2017 third-round pick was a selection on the 2017 All-Rookie Team by PFWA.
Harris on the Rams offense
Anthony Harris played a pivotal role in Minnesota’s 24-7 win over the Rams in 2017 at U.S Bank Stadium.
With the game tied at 7 late in the second quarter, the safety stripped Los Angeles wide receiver Cooper Kupp of the ball at the goal line and promptly recovered the loose ball.
Harris’ clutch play kept the score tied and helped jump-start the Vikings to a strong second half in which they outscored the Rams 17-0 over the final two quarters.
Harris and the Vikings defense will see a bevy of playmakers again on Thursday night, including Rams running back Todd Gurley, who leads the league with 34 points scored (five touchdowns and a pair of 2-point conversion).
“They’ve got a lot of weapons,” Harris said of a Rams offense that is averaging 34 points per game. “They want to run the ball. He’s a good running back, has size, has speed, good balance, so we’ve just got to stop the run, defend the pass well, defend the big plays, rally to the ball and tackle.”
For the Vikings: Marcus Sherels (ribs), Everson Griffen (knee/not injury related) and Riley Reiff (foot) did not participate. Dalvin Cook (hamstring), Harris (hamstring), David Morgan (knee) and Tom Johnson (ankle) were limited. Trae Waynes (ankle), Rashod Hill (foot), Holton Hill (ankle) and Pat Elflein (ankle) fully participated.
For the Rams: Mark Barron (ankle), Dominique Easley (knee), JoJo Natson (hand), Marcus Peters (calf), Aqib Talib (ankle) and Greg Zuerlein (groin) did not participate.