By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings may never be in as bad of a situation as they will be on Thursday. The Vikings play the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium fresh off getting blown out at home by the Seattle Seahawks and will be without four starters and five players on defense total.
Starters linebacker Anthony Barr (groin/hand), defensive tackle Linval Joseph (foot) and safeties Andrew Sendejo (knee) and Harrison Smith (knee/hamstring) have been ruled out as is backup linebacker Brandon Watts (rib).
“This is the NFL, and guys get banged up all the time,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “We’re not the only team that has guys hurt. So, line up and go play. Figure out what they can do and do it good.”
The Vikings will turn to rookie seventh-round draft pick Edmond Robinson to start in place of Barr. Robinson has played in five games this season and recorded three tackles. Most of his playing time has come on special teams, but he is now in line to get the first start of his career Thursday.
“I feel pretty comfortable,” Robinson said Tuesday via 1500ESPN.com. “Been practicing for these days for the last few weeks. I’ve been in the base defense at (Barr’s spot) this week, they’ve been helping me, preparing me to get ready to play. We’re just taking it day by day, but I’m ready to go.”
Robinson has received advice and tidbits from the second-year first-round draft pick he is replacing.
“(Barr) gives me pointers,” Robinson said. “Just letting me know where I should fit in certain coverages and what I should be looking for in certain reads and stuff, just giving me small tidbits that he’s gained over the last year and a half. It’s definitely been helpful having him and Chad (Greenway) in there, just helping me out along the way.”
The Vikings will keep Sharrif Floyd in the starting lineup at nose tackle after moving from the three-technique for last week’s loss. Taking Floyd’s place at the three-technique will be Tom Johnson again.
Robert Blanton would be the first reserve to step into a starting role. He, however, is questionable with a knee injury. If he is unable to play, undrafted rookie Anthony Harris and street free agent Shaun Prater could be the starters. Both Harris and Prater were signed or promoted from the practice squad on Tuesday.
The Cardinals have 12 players listed on their injury report. They list running back Andre Ellington (toe), cornerback Jerraud Powers (calf), and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (ankle) as out. They list tight end Jermaine Gresham (knee) as doubtful, and safety Tony Jefferson (hamstring) and defensive tackle Cory Redding (ankle) as questionable. Finally, they list wide receiver John Brown (hamstring), wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (ankle), wide receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring), safety Rashad Johnson (ankle), long snapper Mike Leach (knee) and running back Stepfan Taylor (shoulder) as probable.
Probable (75 percent chance player will play):
Scott Crichton, defensive end (ankle)
Questionable (50 percent):
Robert Blanton, safety (knee)
Out (player will not play:
Anthony Barr, linebacker (groin/hand)
Linval Joseph, defensive tackle (foot)
Andrew Sendejo, safety (knee)
Harrison Smith, safety (knee/hamstring)
Brandon Watts, linebacker (rib)
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.