The short week of practice is over and the Vikings are set for their game this Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Here's what we learned this week about the Vikings as they prepared for Week 6.
Bush questionable, Megatron doubtfulLions RB Reggie Bush and WR Calvin Johnson both missed all three days of practice this week and their status for Sunday's game is in doubt. Johnson left last week's game against the Bills with an ankle injury and did not return. There has been talk all week that the Lions may sit him this week to try and get the ankle to heal. Bush is also dealing with an ankle injury, although he is more likely to see the field on Sunday.
Johnson is listed as doubtful and Bush is listed as questionable on the final injury report.
Tate, not Bush or Megatron, is Detroit's top target on 3rd downAs explained in this week's opponent X-factor piece, the Vikings should beware of Lions WR Golden Tate. With or without Johnson, Tate can be a dangerous playmaker for Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense.
Tate has 31 receptions on the season, including a team-best 14 on 3rd down. That's five more than Johnson's nine 3rd-down receptions. Of those 14 receptions on 3rd down, 10 have gone for 1st downs and one was a touchdown. What makes Tate especially dangerous is his ability after the catch, as he's broken 14 tackles this season and leads all NFL receivers in yards after catch (YAC) with 237.
The Vikings need to be solid in coverage AND tackling on Sunday to contain Tate.
Harrison Smith is on track to play SundayNothing will be official until 90 minutes prior to kickoff, but there's reason to be optimistic that S Harrison Smith will play against Detroit on Sunday. Smith, who is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with three and is second on the Vikings in tackles with 41, injured the ankle last week in Green Bay.
While he was able to finish the game, there initially was question as to whether he'd be able to play this week. As the week progressed, though, optimism for Smith's availability gained traction.
"He did a lot [Wednesday]," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "So I expect that he's probably going to play [against the Detroit Lions on Sunday]."
Smith is listed as questionable on the week's final injury report.
Jennings says Bridgewater has the work ethic to be greatGreg Jennings has been to where the rest of his teammates want to go – the Super Bowl. And Jennings has played with a couple of great quarterbacks, too – Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. So when he says a player works hard enough to be a great player, it should carry some weight.
The good news for Vikings fans? Jennings said that about rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
"He's a very smart kid," Jennings said. "He puts the time in off the field, studying his opponent, understanding who we are as receivers, what are our indicators and different things like that, getting a feel for the guys around him, which will make things easier for him. It all comes down to the study and work you put in, and he definitely puts in enough to be a great quarterback."
Zimmer has high praise for BarrIn much the same way that when Jennings says something positive about a teammate it should carry a lot of weight, when Zimmer praises one of his players the rest of us should take notice. Zimmer, who demands perfection from his players, was very complimentary of rookie linebacker Anthony Barr earlier this week.
Barr leads the Vikings in tackles and has 2.0 sacks on the season. While Zimmer will point out that Barr can improve his pass rush ability and still needs to hone in on details related to his alignments, Zimmer also sees a lot of talent in him.
"I think that at some point in time I expect him to be one of the better, better linebackers in this league. I don't know when that will be but I expect it to be sometime," Zimmer said.