By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings have seen more traditional passing quarterbacks in each of its first five games. In Week 6, the Vikings may have to defend dual-threat Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins.
In the first five games, the opposing quarterbacks (Blaine Gabbert, Andrew Luck, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford and Matt Hasselbeck) have a combined 299 rushing yards in 19 starts – that amounts to 15.7 per. Griffin has 241 rushing yards by himself in five starts – 48.2 per.
Griffin’s running ability led to a big hit from Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon as he tried to slide near the sideline. The hit gave Griffin a concussion. He was cleared to return to practice already this week, but has not been cleared to play on Sunday. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan expects the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to play. The decision should be made Friday.
If Griffin is unable to play, his backups are fourth round choice Kirk Cousins and NFL veteran Rex Grossman. They have the running acumen similar to the previous five quarterbacks.
Smith avoids punishment
Safety Harrison Smith was ejected from Sunday’s victory over the Tennessee Titans for pushing a referee. Due to the early nature of the ejection, about a third into the game, it was not a surprise that he was not suspended. However, avoiding a fine was a good surprise for the rookie safety. Reportedly, NFL’s executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson “determined the ejection was sufficient discipline.”
The first round draft pick already has been fined once. He received a $21,000 fine in the preseason for a hit to the head of a San Diego Charger receiver.
Smith apologized after the game and called his actions stupid. Without him, the Vikings were forced to play the game with just two active safeties, fellow rookie Robert Blanton and Jamarca Sanford.
Walsh getting first big test
Blair Walsh has been very good for the Vikings through five games. He is 12 of 13, including 3 of 3 from 50 yards or longer, and forced 17 touchbacks in 27 kickoffs. That is the reason for optimism, but he will be tested at FedEx Field. The home of the Redskins’ is the first outdoor venue the Vikings will play in this season. The Vikings have had three home games and two road games. The two road games–at the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium and Detroit Lions’ Ford Field–were at indoor stadiums.
Peterson returns to scene of the accident
Last season, Adrian Peterson tore his ACL on Christmas Eve at FedEx Field. When the full extent of the injury was announced, it was nearly unthinkable that Peterson would be playing, let alone starting, when the Vikings returned to Washington.
Simpson’s return still unknown
Jerome Simpson was a nonfactor in Sunday’s win. During Monday’s press conference the whole situation came to light. Simpson had weakness and numbness in his leg. He wasn’t able to push off on the leg. Trainers took a look at him and informed head coach Leslie Frazier that playing would not put him in jeopardy.
Frazier said that Simpson would miss practice Wednesday and hope that he can return Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Vikings announced that the leg weakness and numbness stem from a back issue. They believe that rehabilitation will heal him quicker than surgery.
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.