EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Three Vikings defenders are among the top 10 among their position groups for fan votes in the 2015 Pro Bowl.
Harrison Smith, who recorded his fourth interception of the season Sunday in Chicago, has the fourth-most fan votes among free safeties. Smith returned his nab of a Jay Cutler pass 52 yards to tie a team record of three interception returns of 50 or more yards. He opened this season with an 81-yard interception return for a touchdown in a win at St. Louis.
Everson Griffen, who leads the Vikings and is tied for eighth in the NFL with a career high 9.0 sacks, also ranks fourth among defensive ends in fan votes. Griffen has been a dynamic force along the defensive line during his first season as a starter.
Anthony Barr, who is tied for the league lead among rookies with 4.0 sacks, has garnered the 10th-highest number of votes from fans among outside linebackers.
Fan voting continues through Jan. 9, 2015, for the game that is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) on Jan. 25, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. Click here to vote for Smith, Griffen, Barr and other Vikings.
CLOCK TALK: Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said he spoke with league officials Monday about the clock malfunction issues Sunday at Soldier Field that kept players from both teams from knowing how much time remained at multiple points of the game, including during Minnesota's final possession when rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater was trying to execute his third straight fourth-quarter comeback drive.
"They said there are a lot of things they need to look into and have protocol for in case a situation like that arises and things they'll discuss," said Zimmer, who added that he was told those discussions will likely occur in the offseason.
View images from the week 11 matchup at Soldier Field between the Vikings and Bears.
Zimmer made it clear that "the Bears beat us," but said the clock issue kept Bridgewater from knowing how much time remained when he took a shot at the end zone on second-and-3 from the Chicago 29-yard line. The pass intended for Charles Johnson was intercepted by Ryan Mundy with 42 seconds remaining.
"Teddy thought at that point when he threw the interception, he thought the clock was down and he tried to make a play in the end zone," Zimmer said. "That's really the only time and it being a little disconcerting for the offense in the two-minute drill was the biggest issue. Now the Bears had the same thing. They could have had different changes. If they know it's a minute left in the game or 10 seconds left, they are going to make different calls as well. I'm not going to put it all on that, but you've got a young quarterback running a two-minute drill and can't find anywhere in the place where there's how much time is left. So that is a little bit disconcerting, but we didn't deserve to win the game, regardless if we would have tied it up."
RUDY'S RETURN: The Vikings were able to bring tight end Kyle Rudolph back into the fold for his first action since Week 3. Rudolph played about a third of Minnesota's 47 offensive snaps, and Zimmer said he thinks the 2012 Pro Bowler will be able to build on that experience in the final six games of the season.
"He was confident but I don't know if he was really confident, you know what I mean as far as, 'OK, I can go run this route as hard as I can run,' " Zimmer said. "Kyle is a great competitive kid that wants to please and do everything he can. If there's a chance that he's going to try to play, he's going to play regardless of if he's 99 percent or he's 88 percent. I think he needed to get back into it. He was a little bit rusty in my opinion. I think he just needs to get back into it more."
RECEIVERS UPDATE: Jarius Wright suffered a hamstring injury, and Greg Jennings dealt with an injury to his ribs Sunday. Zimmer said "they seemed to be OK. We'll have to find out how they are during the week."