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Sendejo, Thielen listed as questionable for Vikings-Eagles game

Three Vikings players are listed questionable for Sunday’s NFC conference championship game in Philadelphia.

Safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion), receiver Adam Thielen (low back) and cornerback Mackensie Alexander (rib/illness) were all listed questionable, or the NFL’s version of 50/50, to play after Friday’s practice.

The good news is Sendejo was a full participant on Friday as he progresses through the concussion protocol. He had been limited on Wednesday and Thursday.

Thielen was still limited Friday while dealing with a back injury suffered against the Saints. Alexander was held out of Friday’s practice, with an illness added to his list of ailments.

Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee) has been ruled out, meaning the Vikings will be down to one backup defensive tackle, rookie Jaleel Johnson, against the Eagles.

Receiver Michael Floyd (illness) returned to practice Friday and is expected to play.

For the Eagles: LB Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) is questionable.

Mailbag: How will the Vikings pressure Eagles quarterback Foles?

Send any Vikings-related questions to @Andrew_Krammer and we’ll answer a few here every Friday.

Will Zimmer dial up a lot of blitzes or can the front four get pressure against the Eagles’ good offensive line? — @mllowery

AK: Mike Zimmer turned up the heat against a solid Saints offensive line in the 29-24 NFC Divisional win. Extra rushers produced in key moments. Safety Harrison Smith’s sack on third down just before halftime pushed the Saints back 10 yards, forcing a 58-yard field goal attempt that missed. It’s not farfetched to think Zimmer will deploy a similar tactic, perhaps even more so against Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Foles has the league’s second-worst passer rating while under pressure (23.8), according to Pro Football Focus, inviting the thought of extra rushers against a strong Eagles offensive line. The Vikings defensive line brought a lot of pressure throughout the regular season, but Minnesota shouldn’t be afraid to bring more against Foles. The stellar man-to-man play of cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes will be a key if the Vikings blitz often.

Do you think the Vikings offensive line can play the Eagles defensive line straight up? Or will the Vikings have to use all sorts of tricks to move the ball? — @JoshHenig

AK: On the other side, the Vikings offensive line will have its hands full against an Eagles defense that loves to crowd the line of scrimmage and play single-high safety coverage. Philadelphia doesn’t blitz all that much under coordinator Jim Schwartz, due in part to a strong defensive line that causes havoc from all areas – Brandon Graham (9.5 sacks) off the edge or Fletcher Cox (5.5 sacks) up the middle. The Vikings have struggled to keep heat off Case Keenum throughout the season, and there’s little reason to think Sunday in Philadelphia will be any different. Keenum was the league’s fourth-most pressured quarterback (38.8 percent) this season. “Tricks” isn’t necessarily the word, but the Vikings should be looking for ways to get Keenum on the move as they have this season through bootlegs and moving pockets.

What’s the latest on Sendejo? Outlook for Sunday? — @22medman

AK: Safety Andrew Sendejo remains in the concussion protocol as of Thursday afternoon, when he was limited in Vikings practice. He’s expected to play, according to Zimmer, but the true indicator will be whether he can pass the necessary cognitive tests to be medically cleared. Sendejo took a hard, blindside hit from Saints receiver Michael Thomas, which left him laying relatively lifeless on the ground for a short period. The hit overshadowed Sendejo’s impressive leaping interception of Saints quarterback Drew Brees in the first half. So if they’re without Sendejo, the Vikings will lose one of their most improved players in coverage. Safety Anthony Harris would be the expected replacement for Sendejo. Harris started three games this season for Sendejo, standing out in the 24-7 win against the Rams when he forced a goal-line fumble by Todd Gurley.

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