By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings have not beaten another NFC North team since beating the Detroit Lions at Mall of America Field in Week 3 of the 2010 season.
Eleven divisional games later, the Vikings face a struggling Lions team fresh off a disappointing overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans.
“We know they’re going to play with a chip on their shoulders,” quarterback Christian Ponder said Wednesday. “It’s a very important game for us because we’re trying to win our first road game, trying to get our first win in the NFC North. Our No. 1 goal is to try to win the NFC North, so this is a good starting point. It’s also the most important game for us because it’s the next one.”
The Vikings are coming off what will be either the biggest upset or the spring board to the best story of the NFL season.
Minnesota, along with the Chicago Bears, are atop the NFC North division with a 2-1 record. The Green Bay Packers and Lions are a game back at 1-2.
Injuries hitting Vikings
The Vikings did not have tight end Kyle Rudolph, linebacker Erin Henderson and safety Mistral Raymond available for Wednesday’s practice. Defensive ends Jared Allen and D’Aundre Reed and safety Andrew Sendejo were limited.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier did not seem concerned with any of the injuries. Henderson has not been cleared to return to practice, but Frazier added that he is hoping Henderson will be back Thursday. He added that Raymond will likely miss 3-5 weeks.
Frazier gives credit to fan base for Sunday’s win
The Vikings want to be a physical team that is tough to beat at home. Frazier said after Sunday’s win that he felt the Mall of America Field crowd affected the San Francisco 49ers offense and that the Vikings can have a big home field advantage.
He added: “We wanted to get off to a good start to keep our fans engaged and our guys did that. I think we had a 16 play drive early in the game to get it going, our defense got off the field I think in six plays. From that point on, our fans were engaged and that was huge for us. Just a big win for us in a lot of ways.”
Wright yet to make NFL debut
After suffering an ankle injury during the final preseason game, Jarius Wright was unable to play in the first two games of the season. He was expected to play Sunday against the 49ers, but was made inactive by Frazier.
Neither Frazier nor Wright gave an explanation.
However, Wright did say that felt he could play, but added that the decision is not his and that he will support his teammates no matter what Frazier decides.
The rookie fourth-round draft pick from the Arkansas Razorbacks is a smaller, quicker receiver with a similar skill set to Percy Harvin.
End of the referee lockout coming soon?
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that the NFL and NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) are closing in on an agreement to end the lockout. The belief is that it will take at least one week to the get the referees in place. However, the NFLRA says that the 121 referees are up to date on the new rules and have passed physicals or could pass physicals immediately.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Vikings news, see CBS Sports Minnesota.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.