Minnesota could have its entire receiver group together against the Chiefs' 27th-ranked pass defense on Sunday.
Bruce Kluckhohn/Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
EDEN PRAIRIE — Mike Wallace was added in the offseason and Charles Johnson was expected to take another step in his second season with the Minnesota Vikings.
Jarius Wright was another building block of an improving receiving group, but Minnesota’s passing game didn’t really show itself in the schedule’s first three weeks.
Then the Vikings had to face the league’s top defense in the Denver Broncos without Johnson or Wright.
Yet, in the process of a 23-20 loss at Denver, Minnesota unveiled its depth at the position where it has long tried to find playmakers.
Following the bye and hosting the Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) the Vikings could be healthy and deep for second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
"I have total trust in those guys," Bridgewater said this week of a group that saw production from fifth-round pick Stefon Diggs and undrafted veteran Adam Thielen in the loss at Denver.
Without Johnson because of injured ribs and with Wright only playing one snap due to a hand injury, Minnesota (2-2) had a season-high 269 yards receiving against the Broncos, who have only allowed 192.8 yards passing per game this season.
Wallace led the way with eight catches for 83 yards and his first touchdown with the Vikings since his offseason trade from Miami. He leads Minnesota with 20 receptions and 233 yards receiving, but the veteran suffered a knee injury against Denver and has been held out of the team’s three practices since the Week 4 game.
Following Wednesday’s workout that he missed, Wallace returned for his usual post-practice session of catching balls from the JUGS machine along with the other receivers. He expressed optimism he would be ready for Sunday’s game.
"Feeling good, feeling really good, extremely good," Wallace said. "I felt good running around today. I think everything should be back to normal tomorrow."
The Vikings seek to take the pressure — and defensive attention — off running back Adrian Peterson. Minnesota has had one 1,000-yard season from a receiver since 2004: Sidney Rice had 1,312 yards during 2009 with Brett Favre at quarterback.
The Vikings might have found themselves several players to help Peterson and Bridgewater.
Diggs, in his first regular-season action, was targeted 10 times against the Broncos and caught six passes for 87 yards. Thielen caught six of his eight targets for 70 yards.
"We got a lot of talented guys in our room; a lot of speed, a lot of route running, a lot of guys who can do it all," Diggs said.
"It just showed we won’t lose anything if somebody goes down as far as the next man up. You got to be able to take that role and run with it. And when all the guys get healthy, you got to be able to be ready, as well."
Minnesota could have its entire group together against the Chiefs’ 27th-ranked pass defense. Johnson returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in Week 3. Wright was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.