Vikings Snap Counts: Hercules Mata’afa makes his name heard in Green Bay
Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa was on the field for just eight plays Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.
But he made his name known.
In the second quarter of the Vikings’ 21-16 loss to the Packers, Mata’afa stopped Green Bay running back Jamaal Williams for a loss of six yards, forcing a punt two plays later. Then on the next drive, Mata’afa jumped on a loose ball after a bad exchange between Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and center Corey Linsley.
Mata’afa, who played 28 snaps last week (36%) against Atlanta, saw his playing time decrease because of the game situation, not because of a poor performance. Mata’afa is used almost exclusively in the nickel package. Since Green Bay jumped out to a 21-0, the Packers turned to the running game, meaning the Vikings weren’t in that package too often down the stretch.
Mata’afa has been activated in back-to-back weeks over fellow defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes, a fourth-round pick in 2018.
The way Mata’afa is playing, we don’t see that changing any time soon.
Other notes from Thursday’s snap counts:
— Rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. was on the field for 27 snaps – one more than last week – and caught one of two targets for -1 yards.
— Like Mata’afa, running back Alexander Mattison made the most out of a limited opportunity. He was on the field for eight plays and took four carries for 25 yards.
— Adam Thielen had the edge of Stefon Diggs in snap count for the second straight week. Last week, Thielen was on the field for 47 plays and Diggs 32. In Green Bay on Sunday, Thielen played 64 snaps (98%) while Diggs played 58.