Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy. Redskins safety Su’a Cravens. Lions defensive end Kerry Hyder. Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman. Packers cornerback Damarious Randall. Dolphins linebacker Raekwon McMillan.
Those are just six of the significant players injured during the first week of the NFL preseason.
That’s on the mind of Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who is still deciding how much his starters will play in the next two exhibitions before shutting most down for the preseason finale. Is he going to stick with the traditional first half for starters during the third game on Aug. 27?
“You know, I’m honestly really weighing that a lot,” Zimmer said Tuesday. “I happened to have the game on in the background and I saw two defensive starters go out for the season [this weekend]. And I saw one team had five guys injured.”
“It’s a really fine line,” Zimmer added. “My concern is all right, how much do we weigh the guys that I really know — I have an idea if they can play — just getting them in there to play and the backfire to that is really, are they going to be in shape for Sept. 11? That’s something I’m contemplating right now.”
The Vikings didn’t make it out of Buffalo unscathed during the preseason opener last week, losing running back Bishop Sankey to a torn ACL. Starting cornerback Trae Waynes also exited after two snaps due to what Zimmer called a “sore shoulder.” Waynes has not yet fully returned to practice as of Tuesday morning.
Preseason reps for the starting offense is likely more of a conundrum for Zimmer after an underwhelming showing in Buffalo. Quarterback Sam Bradford and the starters picked up just one first down on three series against the Bills.
“I’d like to see them play better,” he said.
The Vikings had a set number of plays for the starting offense in Buffalo. On Friday night in Seattle, Zimmer said he’s thought about forgoing a prescribed snap count to instead wait for a successful drive.
“Possibly,” he said. “I mean, I feel like we have to develop a rhythm here a little bit and get going from there.”
Some quick hits from Zimmer’s Tuesday press conference:
On if preseason wins (Zimmer is 13-1 in exhibitions) mean anything:
“It really doesn’t,” he said. “I do think it’s good to win. If we’re playing tiddlywinks, I think it’s good to win. I think the competitor part of me, it’s always good. At the end of the day, does it matter? No. But I think the competitive nature of your team, especially if you’ve got a young team getting used to winning — that’s good. I know the record. We don’t really go out of our way to win, but I like to win, yeah.”
On facing the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field:
“Number one, I always liked playing somewhere in the preseason on the road that’s going to be loud,” Zimmer said. “It’s more like a true in-season game atmosphere. I think that will be good. Obviously the Seahawks defense is really good. They got guys up front that can rush. They got corners that can play man-to-man. Safety in the middle of the field that can go and linebackers that can run. It’ll be good for us.”
On if facing a team like the Seahawks means he wants to see more of the starters:
“We may,” Zimmer said. “I haven’t told the coaches yet what I’m going to do for the game, but I do think that it’s going to give us a chance to evaluate a lot of guys as well, so you can kind of see them against better players. We may get some of the younger guys in earlier, but at the end of the day we still have to try to get ready for the regular season.”