Vikings Snap Counts: Patchwork O-line gets job done vs. Panthers
Perhaps no position group has undergone as much in-season shifting for the Minnesota Vikings as the offensive line (yes, quarterback and running back can make a case as well).
That was evident with a glance at this past Sunday's participation chart, which featured six linemen, two of whom had not played this season.
Minnesota started T.J. Clemmings at left tackle in place of the injured Matt Kalil and subbed in Jeremiah Sirles when Alex Boone was injured in the second quarter. Head coach Mike Zimmer appeared pleased with the performance of both players, noting that both did a nice job in pass protection.
Clemmings played every offensive snap in his first career start at left tackle, while Sirles played 35 snaps at left guard. Offensive linemen Joe Berger, Brandon Fusco and Andre Smith played 100 percent of the team's offensive snaps for a third straight week.
Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked just twice and hit just three times, despite facing a Carolina Panthers defense many consider among the best in the NFL. The improved performance came after a week in which Bradford was hit 12 times and sacked four times in a win over the Green Bay Packers.
The offensive line was not perfect, however, especially in run blocking. The team rushed for just 58 yards on 24 carries (2.4 yards per carry), picking up just two rushing first downs.
Some other notes from Sunday's snap counts:
-- Jerick McKinnon was Minnesota's primary running back in place of the injured Adrian Peterson, playing on 65 percent (35) of the team's offensive snaps. He finished with 16 carries for 45 yards. Matt Asiata played on 19 snaps (35 percent) and finished with six carries for 15 yards. Free-agent signee Ronnie Hillman was inactive.
-- Wide receiver Jarius Wright played his first (and only) offensive snap of the year. The fifth-year pro has caught seven touchdowns in his Vikings tenure but none since 2014.
-- Cornerback Xavier Rhodes played 57 of Minnesota's defensive snaps (74 percent) in his first game of the season. Trae Waynes played a season-low 31 snaps, after playing nearly every play in the team's first two games. The defense allowed Cam Newton to pass for 262 yards but intercepted him three times.
-- Andrew Sendejo is the only defensive player to have played every snap this season, after Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks each sat out plays Sunday.
-- Rookie safety Jayron Kearse made his defensive debut, playing one snap. Marcus Sherels played four snaps at cornerback and nearly had an interception in his first action on defense this year, while linebacker Emmanuel Lamur played six snaps in his defensive debut.
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