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Sirles Looking to Wrangle Texans Defense in 2nd Career Start

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Jeremiah Sirles is in line to make the second start of his career on Sunday.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Friday that Andre Smith has been ruled out for the Texans matchup. Sirles stepped in for Smith when he was injured early in the first quarter against the Giants and helped the Vikings to a 24-10 win. The previous week, Sirles replaced an injured Alex Boone at left guard.

"It's just the nature of the beast. The way the NFL works is you need to take advantage of opportunities," Sirles said. "A lot of teams don't realize it, but we only dress seven guys at the game a lot of times, so you have to be able to play multiple positions."

Sirles credits his versatility to dedicated preparation and a strong Vikings coaching staff.

"The coaches getting me ready, getting me in the right spots, getting me reps where I need reps," Sirles said. "[I'm] just continuing to work hard."

Sirles said there's been a lot of film study and preparation this week as the Vikings gear up for the Texans defense. Houston, which plays a 3-4, has a number of talented players on its roster even with starting defensive end J.J. Watt on injured reserve.

According to Sirles, Houston's defense is one that doesn't present many holes and contains effective edge rushers. He said there's a lot of movement by the defensive line and linebackers.

"You're going to see [Whitney] Mercilus, you're going to see [Jadeveon] Clowney, you're going to see [John] Simon – you're going to see all those guys," Sirles said. "They move around a lot, so preparation this week's been key. Being able to study a lot of different guys, figuring out tendencies, and really just film study, because they do a lot of different looks."

The last time Sirles started a game was as a rookie with San Diego, on Dec. 28, 2014. He admitted to having butterflies leading up to Sunday's game but is excited and confident in his skill set.

"I think it's going to be fun," Sirles said. "It's obviously going to be a really good challenge for me, a really good gauge of where I'm at as a player, to go out there and play against some really good people."

Tempo for touchdown

The Vikings offense has mashed the gas from time to time this season, going with an up-tempo pace. They've **streamlined** some of the language of the calls to expedite communication and yielded some success.

An example of this was immediately after Sam Bradford connected with Charles Johnson for a 40-yard pass to the 4-yard line of the New York Giants, the Vikings pushed the pace and ran a power play with Jerick McKinnon for the final touchdown of the game.

McKinnon strolled into the end zone untouched with helpful blocks by Sirles, T.J. Clemmings, Alex Boone and Zach Line.

Zimmer said the success of the play resulted from "probably a little bit" of the tempo and the effectiveness of the blocking.

"To me, if a team is no huddle every snap, you kind of get in a routine, get in a rhythm, and if you go a few plays and sprinkle one in, it may catch them off guard," Zimmer said. "That, to me, I don't know if it did or not, but yeah, it helped."

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

Injury reports:

For the Vikings: In addition to Smith (elbow), David Morgan (knee) and Sharrif Floyd (knee) have been ruled out. Rhett Ellison (knee) and Stefon Diggs (groin) are listed as doubtful. Kyle Rudolph (rib), Anthony Barr (wrist), Xavier Rhodes (knee) and Jeremiah Sirles (ankle) fully participated on Friday.

For the Texans: TE Stephen Anderson (hamstring) and RB Jonathan Grimes (ankle) have been ruled out. T Duane Brown (knee) and CB Kareem Jackson (hamstring) are listed as questionable. T Derek Newton (knee), TE C.J. Fiedorowicz and G Oday Aboushi were limited Friday.

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