The week of practice is over and the Vikings are nearly set for their contest against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Here's what we learned this week about the Vikings-Raiders matchup in Week 10.
Vikings may be without Barr, Kendricks
Both Anthony Barr (hand) and Eric Kendricks (ribs) missed practice time this week because of injuries. The Vikings are optimistic both will be able to play, but it's far from a certainty. Barr is listed as questionable for the game while Kendricks is doubtful. If Kendricks cannot play, one option for the Vikings would be to play Chad Greenway in the middle and play second-year LB Brandon Watts on the outside, similar to what they did last week when Audie Cole left the game.
Barr injured his hand in last week's game but was able to play through it and finish the game. Kendricks did not play last week because of his injury.
Turner thinks passing game is improving
The Vikings rank last in the NFL in passing TDs (6) and 30th in passing yards per game (188.9), but there's more to gauging the success of a QB and a passing game than box scores and stat sheets. That's the point Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner made earlier this week.
"We're 6-2, and to me, that's the evaluation that matters," Turner said. "I think Teddy's had a lot to do with that record. I think he's an opportunistic guy. I think he's making very few negative plays. He's not making plays that cost us games."
And sometimes, Bridgewater is making plays that are leading to wins. He found Stefon Diggs for a go-ahead TD on the first drive of the 3rd quarter in Detroit. He led two clutch scoring drives late in the 4th quarter in Chicago, including another TD toss to Diggs. And last week he scored a rushing TD and rushing two-point conversion to give the Vikings a lead in the second half against St. Louis. All three of those games were Vikings wins.
"In the most critical situations, when we've been behind, he's put together drives," Turner explained. "He's put together plays that have given us a chance to win. As coach (Mike Zimmer) says, we're still growing in the passing game."
Adrian Peterson leads the League in rushing, something he's done a lot
While Turner makes a compelling case for the Vikings passing game, all one needs to do to know Adrian Peterson is playing well is to take a look at the statistics. Peterson ranks first in the NFL with 758 rushing yards, making this week the 36th week in his career he has been atop the NFL rushing charts.
Peterson is a three-time NFC rushing champion and a two-time NFL rushing champion. He also owns six of the top eight single-season rushing performances in franchise history as well as the top five single-game rushing performance in team history and the NFL's single-game rushing record of 296 yards.
Crabtree is every bit the threat Cooper is
Amari Cooper leads all rookies in receiving yards and has gotten off to a great start in his debut season. He's a big reason why the Raiders offense has surged this season, especially of late. But he's not the only pass catcher making a difference for Oakland. In fact, there's another receiver who has better numbers on the season.
Cooper enters Week 10 with season totals of 45 catches for 653 yards, 4 TDs and 9 catches of 20 yards. Fellow WR Michael Crabtree has a similar line, and is a touch better in all of those categories but one. He has 47 receptions for 591 yards and 5 TDs with 11 catches of 20 yards.
The point is not to denigrate what Cooper has done; he's an offensive rookie of the year candidate and appears to be a long-term playmaker for the Raiders. Rather, the point is that QB Derek Carr has two very capable and productive WRs to use in the passing game and the Vikings defense will have their hands full trying to cover both of them.