Left tackle Riley Reiff doesn’t say much publicly. He says he limits his chats with reporters and declined this week to discuss facing his old team, the Lions, on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
But Reiff, the Vikings’ prized free-agent addition from Detroit this offseason, doesn’t need to be a rah-rah guy to be the leader of the Vikings’ offensive line resurgence, according to offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. The presence of Reiff has helped turn the 2-1 Vikings offense into a legitimate threat, just in time to welcome the Lions, who let him walk in free agency.
“The words and the speaking part of leadership is over-talked about in my mind,” Shurmur said. “I’ve said it before: It doesn’t take anything extraordinary to lead. You’ve got to be good at what you do and you’ve got to be willing to show courage and be tough. He does all those things.”
That has been an issue for Vikings tackles in recent years, so they targeted Reiff this offseason after he missed just three games in four seasons for the Lions as a starter at both left and right tackle.
So far Reiff has played all 205 snaps for the Vikings, despite dealing with a lingering back injury that bothered him throughout August.
“I have a great appreciation for him,” Shurmur said. “Now we’re playing the Lions, his former team. When you listen to him speak about his teammates that he used to play with the Lions, he talks about how good this player is and how good that player is.”
By this writer’s count, Danielle Hunter saw a chip or double team from a Buccaneers running back or tight end on 11 of his 28 pass-rushing snaps. That’s a lot of extra attention for the Vikings defensive end in his first season as a starter.
“I’ve noticed that,” said Hunter, who does not have a sack this season. “You can’t get frustrated. They’re going to chip you and all that, but whenever you get your opportunity you have to capitalize on it.”
Hunter, who led the Vikings with 12.5 sacks last season, said Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will present a different challenge than Jameis Winston or Ben Roethlisberger.
“He thinks he’s Michael Vick now,” Hunter said, referring to Stafford’s 8 yards per carry average this season.
Back on track
Kicker Kai Forbath got a solid game under his belt just in time for the Lions, the NFC North foe who beat the Vikings twice last season thanks, in part, to kickers. Former Vikings kicker Blair Walsh made two gaffes — a botched kickoff and a missed extra point — in the first overtime loss. Then Lions kicker Matt Prater made a game-winning field goal against the Vikings on Thanksgiving.
Forbath, who missed an extra point in each of the first two games, made all six of his kicks against the Buccaneers: two field goals and four extra points.
“It wasn’t that there was an issue before,” Forbath said. “I just went out there, swung confidently. That’s what happens when you trust what you’re doing.”
Remmers will play
Right tackle Mike Remmers will play Sunday against the Lions despite not practicing Thursday and being limited Friday because of an illness.
Starting quarterback Sam Bradford (knee) was ruled out earlier in the week. The only other Vikings player on the final injury report, swing tackle Rashod Hill, is listed as questionable after injuring a knee this week.
For the Lions, six players are questionable including defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (knee), linebacker Jarrad Davis (concussion) and center Travis Swanson (ankle).
Due diligence at TE
The Vikings have been keeping records updated on free-agent tight ends, bringing in four players for private workouts this past week, according to a source.
Among them was former Cowboys second-round pick Gavin Escobar, who most recently spent this summer at the Chiefs camp.
Vikings players fined
Two Vikings incurred fines from Sunday’s win vs. Tampa Bay. Safety Andrew Sendejo was fined $24,309 for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes drew a $9,115 fine for taunting Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans.