By Joseph Gunther
The NFL requires each team to play at least one Thursday night game every season. The Minnesota Vikings have their short-week this week with a trip to Phoenix to take on the Arizona Cardinals.
Having such short time to get ready for your next game seems like it would beneficial to face to a rival. However, last season, the Vikings played their Thursday night at Lambeau Field against the rival-Green Bay Packers. It didn’t go very well with the Packers winning 42-10 in early October.
“You know the opponents a little bit better, but it didn’t help us last year,” head coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday at his weekly press conference.
The NFL has had games on Thursday for a long time, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the league began expanding beyond the the traditional Thanksgiving day games hosted annually by the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. Coaches and players would prefer not have the short week, but it is what it is.
“I’m just a soldier,” Zimmer said when asked if he’d change anything about the Thursday games. “If it was up to me, I’d do them Friday’s, but it is what it is. Everybody has to do it and honestly; I was in Dallas for 13 years, so I had 13 Thursday games, so I think I’ve had a Thursday game probably almost every year I’ve coached.”
Zimmer was asked about the change in preparation and the things that speed up.
“It’s a grind,” he said. “Each team does things differently. You’re trying to get the recovery of the players back, you’re trying to get the game plan done, sometimes guys will game plan the week before, which can confuse things during that week. Obviously the travel, you go out there on Wednesday, which is unusual. Really the schedule changes quite a bit for the players.”
This week is the only Thursday game for the Vikings this season. They don’t even have another primetime game scheduled at this point, but the league has the ability to flex games with more meaning than others into national television slots.
The Vikings signed defensive back Shaun Prater and promoted safety Anthony Harris from the practice squad Tuesday. In order to make room on the 53-man roster, the Vikings placed second-year safety Antone Exum Jr. on injured reserve and waived defensive end Justin Trattou.
Both Prater and Harris were among the team’s final cuts. Prater had a short stint with the Indianapolis Colts this season, but was released after playing in just one game. He played 18 games for the Vikings in 2013 and 2014 after being waived by the Philadelphia Eagles. He amassed 11 tackles, one pass defensed and one interception in his career while playing for the Vikings. Harris spent all of this season on the team’s practice squad. The Vikings signed him as an undrafted free agent in April.
Exum Jr. fractured a rib and injured the AC joint in his shoulder, according to the Star Tribune, during the team’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. He was making his second career start.
Trattou hasn’t played since injuring his foot in Week 2. He has been a healthy scratch for several games and has slipped on the depth chart due to the steady improvement of rookie defensive end Danielle Hunter.
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. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.