By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings will see Tennessee Titans backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck under center Sunday at Mall of America Field.
Hasselbeck started all 16 games for the Titans last season, his first with the Titans, and threw for 3,571 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Titans head coach Mike Munchak confirmed Wednesday that the 14-year veteran will start in place of the injured Jake Locker, who suffered a second dislocated left (non-throwing) shoulder this season in Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans.
Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean even believes that Locker could miss multiple games and may need surgery. He writes that Dr. Mike Pagnani, a renowned Nashville doctor who specializes in the treatment of shoulder dislocations, believes that a third dislocation and surgery are inevitable. Surgery includes a four to six month recovery, which would end Locker’s season.
The Titans selected Locker with the eighth overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft, four picks before the Vikings selected Christian Ponder.
Peterson vs. Johnson
Sunday will be a battle of two of the most explosive running backs in the NFL. Adrian Peterson of the Vikings and Chris Johnson of the Titans have combined to rush for nearly 13,000 yards in their career.
Both starting running backs topped the 100-yard mark for the first time this season last week. Peterson reached 102 yards on 21 carries against the Detroit Lions and Johnson ran 25 times for 141 yards against the Texans.
Linebacker Erin Henderson has been cleared by doctors to begin practicing. He sustained a concussion during the Vikings Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts and has not played or practiced since that game. He believes it is his first concussion. He has been replaced in the starting lineup by Marvin Mitchell and in nickel situations by Jasper Brinkley.
Linebacker Chad Greenway was fined $21,000 for an unnecessary roughness penalty during Sunday’s win. The penalty was called when Greenway hit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson coming across the middle of the field. Johnson did not make the catch before the shoulder-to-helmet hit. He had to be helped off the field, but passed concussion tests and returned to finish the game.
When asked whether he thought the hit was dirty, Johnson replied “That’s football, baby.”
Clarification from the league
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said he has sent the video of a personal foul penalty on Josh Robinson to the league for clarification.
“It just seemed like a tackle,” Frazier said. “Now, it was a hard tackle, but it is football so we’re going to get some clarification from the league. I’ve never seen anything written that we couldn’t tackle a guy that way so I’m interested to see what the league has to say.”
Simpson makes impact in return
Jerome Simpson recorded four catches for 50 yards during Sunday’s win. The Vikings signed the fifth-year veteran in late April despite being an expected free agent. The league eventually handed the former Coastal Carolina standout a three-game suspension. The biggest impact he made Sunday was drawing two pass interference penalties that totaled more than 55 yards.
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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.