This Thursday’s NFL game is between last year’s NFC’s best and seventh best defenses, but this game has shootout potential with both teams missing stars on defense and with both offenses capable of putting up tons of points. Through three weeks, the Rams are averaging a league-best 34 points per game while the Vikings scored 29 and 24 points to begin the year before winding up on the wrong side of one of the NFL’s largest upsets.
Despite winning the #FightForLA against the Chargers last Sunday, the Rams lost two defensive studs to injury. Pro Football Focus’ 12th highest graded corner Aqib Talib was rolled up on at the end of a Chargers passing play. Sean McVay and the Rams are calling the injury an ankle sprain, and it is severe enough that it will require surgery. That surgery will take place on Thursday and his timetable will be determined after the doctors take a look at his ankle ligaments. The optimistic outlook is 4-6 weeks.
Just before Talib limped off the field, Marcus Peters suffered a non-contact injury that had the looks of a season-ending injury. Peters was unable to put any weight on his leg and was clearly in a lot of pain. For hours during and after the game, national and local reporters were announcing injuries to different body parts. There was a fear of an Achilles injury, a calf injury and an ankle sprain. Ultimately the Rams called the injury a strained calf.
The announcement of a strained calf was certainly great news for Peters. Not only does that diagnosis eliminate Peters from missing the season, but it leaves the opportunity for Peters to play as soon as this Thursday against the Vikings. In Tuesday’s interview, McVay called Peters day-to-day and he will be a game-time decision on this short week. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that Peters will miss “2-4 weeks” however. If Peters is cleared to play, it’s fair to assume that he will be playing at less than 100%.
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The injuries to the two Rams corners come at a horrible time for the Rams. Nickell Robey-Coleman, Sam Shields, Troy Hill, and others will be tasked to slow down Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Diggs runs 80% of his routes outside where sophomore Mike Williams had his best game of his career just last week. Diggs is an upside WR2 even with Minnesota traveling across the country on a short week. Thielen will bring his 338 receiving yards (4th in the NFL) into the matchup. With the injuries and the raising game total, Thielen is a WR1/2.
The Vikings will be without stud DE Everson Griffen for an extended period. Griffen is being evaluated and is receiving treatment to combat struggles with his mental health. The Vikings have officially ruled Griffen out for this week. Pro Football Focus currently grades Griffen as the 26th best defensive end out of 101 qualifiers.
We are awaiting the statuses of a couple other Vikings, including Dalvin Cook, RT Riley Reiff and CB Trae Waynes. The sophomore back missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury, and he’s considered a game-time decision on Thursday. Cook was a limited participant in Tuesday’s practice, but Cook said he will have to wait and see how it feels while testing it out in pre-game warm-ups. If he’s able to suit up, he will likely be limited and will be at risk of re-injury. If he sits to let the hamstring heal an additional ten days, then Latavius Murray will be a RB2 in a featured role. Riley Reiff was listed as a DNP on the Vikings injury report, and Trae Waynes was a limited participant. Lastly, the Vikings will get C Pat Elflein back from injury.
Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Trae Waynes aren’t the only corners in the news. Saints corner Patrick Robinson was placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken ankle last weekend. Robinson is the Saints’ highest graded corner by Pro Football Focus in 2018. In an attempt to fill the void, the Saints are bringing in David Amerson in for a workout on Wednesday. Amerson was cut loose by the Kansas City Chiefs after putting out really bad preseason tape. The Chiefs cornerback unit is among the worst in the NFL, so it’s concerning that Amerson wasn’t able to make their final roster. Amerson does have a couple decent seasons under his belt, so maybe the Saints are optimistic they can turn his career back around.
Amerson became a more attractive option after Bashaud Breeland was plucked off the market by the Green Bay Packers. Breeland was unable to sign after multiple visits with teams, and perhaps he lowered his price tag to make it happen. The veteran corner signed a one-year deal with the Pack. The secondary is among the league’s youngest with two rookies and one sophomore playing many snaps. The biggest reason for the signing was the loss of Davon House, who was sent to the injured reserve on Tuesday.
Offense: Greg Olsen (foot) is “way ahead of the curve” compared to last year’s injury. Olsen still remains weeks away, but he could be back earlier than expected. ... The Texans sent wide receiver Bruce Ellington (hamstring) to the injured reserve. Ellington has played 121 offensive snaps this year. Rookie Keke Coutee (hamstring) could be Ellington’s eventual replacement when Coutee is healthy. ... The Raiders signed K Matthew McCrane to replace the injured Mike Nugent (hip). McCrane made 86.6 percent of his field goals in college and was successful on 133-of-134 extra points. ... The Titans placed starting OT Kevin Pamphile on injured reserve. ... The Panthers are receiving Marshall Newhouse in exchange for a 2021 conditional pick. ... The Titans signed quarterback Austin Davis as a contingency plan to Marcus Mariota (nerve) and Blaine Gabbert (concussion). ... The Saints signed wide receiver Brandon Tate… The 49ers aren’t expected to sign a veteran quarterback this week, but Tom Savage is considered the favorite when they do sign one. That should come after this weekend’s road game against the Chargers. Whoever does sign will be C.J. Beathard’s backup for now. ... Quarterback Paxton Lynch is taking a visit with the Jaguars. ... The Dolphins waived quarterback Bryce Petty and receiver Tanner McEvoy… The Bills signed OL Jeremiah Sirles.
Defense: Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will “miss some play time.” The defensive splits with and without Lee in the lineup are drastic. This is not a great situation for the 1-2 Dallas Cowboys. ... The Dolphins signed linebacker Martrell Spaight. ... The Bucs sent Chris Conte to the injured reserve with a knee injury. Hopefully Conte stays away from social media for the next few decades after being sent to the Earth’s mantle by Vance McDonald’s stiff arm. While we are on the subject, be an adult and refrain from tagging the players you're negatively talking about. ... The Bengals signed veteran DL Adolphus Washington. ... The Texans signed DE Daeshon Hall. ... The Texans sent Dylan Cole to the injured reserve after he played three quarters with a dislocated wrist. These NFL players are straight up warriors. ... The Dolphins are bringing in Kony Ealy for a workout.