Joe Berger, Rashod Hill, Nick Easton and Jeremiah Sirles were the troopers in the trenches for the entire afternoon. But two of them — Hill and Sirles — were forced to switch positions mid-game.
Already without starting center Pat Elflein and starting right tackle Mike Remmers, the Vikings lost left tackle Riley Reiff to an ankle injury in the third quarter.
That forced Hill to move from right to left tackle, Sirles to shift from left to right guard and rookie Danny Isidora to appear in his third career game at left guard.
Unfortunately, The Vikings’ patched-up offensive line couldn’t maintain the high level of play we’ve seen from the unit this season. They allowed a season-high six sacks, as quarterback Case Keenum spent a good part of the second half in the grass, staring up at the Carolina sky.
Other notes from Sunday’s snap counts:
— Although fullback C.J. Ham played in just eight snaps — his lowest output since Week 6 — his involvement in the offense continued. Ham has recorded a reception or carry in four of the last five weeks. He moved the ball nine yards on a screen pass against the Panthers, once again showing his rather surprising illusiveness in the open field.
— Not showing any signs of slowing down at age 39, cornerback Terence Newman has played over 40 percent of the snaps in every game this season except one.
— Linval Joseph was extra hungry Sunday, leading the team with 10 tackles and one sack while playing in 81 percent of the defensive snaps.