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Zimmer: Long Could Play Sunday Against Eagles

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said veteran tackle Jake Long could see the field Sunday against the Eagles.

Speaking with reporters on Friday, Zimmer said Long has gotten up to speed quickly enough that he could potentially start if needed. 

Long, who signed as a free agent last week, deferred the amount of potential playing time to the coaches but said after Friday's practice that he'll be ready if called upon.

"I feel good," Long said. "Whenever that opportunity comes, whatever the coaches want, I'll be ready to roll for it.

"I just know that when my number is called, I'll go out there and play well."

Long spent a few days with the Vikings before the bye week and resumed practice this week, which included a Wednesday session in full pads.

The No. 1 overall pick by Miami in the 2008 NFL Draft, Long said his comfort level has improved each day since arriving in Minnesota.

"I really got in the playbook and feel comfortable with it," Long said. "It was a good week."

Long has played for the Dolphins, Rams and Falcons over his nine-year career. The 31-year-old made the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons in Miami.

Keep grinding

The Vikings run game is one aspect that Zimmer circled as an area for improvement during the Vikings bye week. 

Minnesota is averaging 2.5 yards per carry, but has run the ball 144 times, which is 39 more carries than opponents, who have averaged 3.7 yards per carry but are yet to break free for a gain of 20-plus yards.

The Vikings have seen some positives in recent weeks, with Jerick McKinnon breaking loose for a 25-yard run against the Giants. 

Minnesota also has reduced its number of run plays resulting in losses. After opening the season with five negative runs for a loss of 12 total yards at Tennessee and suffering six for minus-12 total yards against Green Bay, Minnesota had four negative runs at Carolina for minus-8 total yards, two for minus-2 total yards against the New York Giants and four for losses of 10 total yards against Houston. That's still too many for Zimmer.

"Yeah, it's still a work in progress. We've still got to get better there," Zimmer said. "It's hard to remember back to Houston, but our biggest thing right now is to eliminate the negative-yardage runs. If we can do that, then I think the running game will be better, but we've had some second-and-14s or it's third-and-nine because we get a three-yard loss on second down or whatever it is. Those are situations we're trying to eliminate."

For the season, the Vikings have had 21 run plays that have lost a combined 44 yards (not counting kneel-downs in the Victory formation).

Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz said he's not surprised the Vikings have kept running the football because it helps the offense control the clock.

"I think that's a defensive coach's mentality as a head coach," the former Lions head coach said. "They've stayed committed to it. It's opened up some tight end stuff in the passing game and also helped their defense out a little bit."

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

Just call him 'Big V'

The Eagles game against the Redskins last week marked the first game in which Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced suspended Lane Johnson at right tackle.

Zimmer was asked to assess what he saw from Vaitai.

"He struggled a little bit early but got better," Zimmer said. "They helped him with their backs and tight end, chipping. So, I'm sure they'll do some more of the same things. He was at TCU. I was at this workout when I was down there."

When asked if he wanted to take a run at pronouncing the 2016 fifth-round pick's name, Zimmer smiled and said, "It's a 'V, Big V.' "

Injury updates

For the Vikings: MyCole Pruitt (knee/ankle) and Sharrif Floyd (knee) have been ruled out. Jarius Wright (ankle) is doubtful. Stefon Diggs (groin) and Laquon Treadwell (thumb) are questionable.

For the Eagles: CB Ron Brooks (calf), LB Mychal Kendricks (ribs), DT Bennie Logan (groin) and CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) are listed as questionable.

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