EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer had some positive news Monday afternoon.
When asked about the condition of Riley Reiff's ankle, Zimmer told Twin Cities media members, "It's a lot better than he thought it was going to be."
Reiff injured the ankle late in the third quarter of Sunday's game at Carolina and did not return.
Other than confirming that nothing was broken, Zimmer did not provide a detailed diagnosis.
"You can call anything a sprain, so whatever you want to call it," he said.
And as far as whether or not Reiff will play against the Bengals in Week 15? Zimmer reminded reporters not to look too far ahead.
"Today is Monday. I'm not going to talk about injuries, we're not going to go there," Zimmer said. "I'll know more Wednesday when they practice."
Here are four other topics covered by Zimmer during his session with media:
1. Keenum at Carolina
In his 11th start for the Vikings, quarterback Case Keenum was 27-of-44 passing for 280 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating of 75.9 was his third lowest of the season.
Zimmer said Keenum "did some really good things" in addition to "some poor things" against the Panthers.
"He made plays," Zimmer said. "I keep hearing about … 'Well, he didn't throw the ball deep.' Well, he got about a 50-yard touchdown with a catch-and-run with Adam [Thielen]. We try to do what the defense gives us. I thought he made some really, really good plays, a couple third downs, [and] he made a couple bad throws."
Zimmer confirmed that Keenum will be the starter against Cincinnati.
In reference to the quarterback's aggressive nature, Zimmer said that Keenum "is still working on things" but that he appreciates his tenacity. Keenum scrambled five times for 40 yards on Sunday, even when required to take a couple of slides.
"One of [the slides] he went head first, and it was second-and-18 or something like that, so 'Hey, let's get the first down,' " Zimmer said. "I'm all for it."
2. Reacting to the run game
The Vikings struggled to get the run game going against the Panthers, finishing the game with exactly 100 yards on the ground. Jerick McKinnon led the Vikings with seven carries for 46 yards, followed by Keenum's 40 and then Latavius Murray's 14 yards on nine attempts.
"I think the biggest thing was that they were plugging up the middle, so we were trying to get the ball out to the perimeter a little bit more. Jerick had a few more runs to the perimeter," Zimmer said.
Zimmer doesn't believe that Carolina's blitzing impacted the run game too much.
"Most of their blitzes were from the outside. If they caught us going to that side, they might have knocked us back a little bit," Zimmer said. "If it was going the other way, if they pinched down, if they caught a guy that was a little late on the step or something like that, but it was five-man rush, Cover 3 most of the day."
3. Opinion on overturned call
Just before halftime on Sunday, a pass from Keenum to Thielen in the end zone was initially ruled a touchdown.
After review, the officials overturned the call and ruled the play an incomplete catch, due to Thielen bobbling the ball when he landed on his back.
When asked if he was frustrated with the explanation given by officials, Zimmer said, "No, I just think the whole thing is messed up."
Added Zimmer: "I've been doing this for 30 years, and I know what a catch looks like. So, the ball moved a little bit, yeah. But he caught the ball."
4. Reviewing the red zone
The Vikings have been highly successful – offensively and defensively – in the red zone all season.
At Carolina, however, they scored a touchdown on just one of four trips inside the Panthers 20. Conversely, Carolina was 3-of-4 in the red zone.
"Against us, they ran the ball effectively, they got it down in there," Zimmer said. "Us against them, I think they did a good job on the routes. Adam [Thielen] dropped one in the end zone, Case had a ball he threw back behind [the receiver]. Again, poor execution. We didn't execute good enough."