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Breaking news and year-round coverage of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Access Vikings is the Star Tribune's blog covering team news, rumors, games and all things purple.

Danielle Hunter's sacks put him at head of his class

Every Wednesday morning, beat writer Matt Vensel will share five Vikings stats that actually mean something heading into that weekend’s game.

15.5 — sacks for Danielle Hunter in his first two NFL seasons

Hunter, the second-year defensive end, recorded a pair of sacks against Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, giving him 5.5 sacks in his past four games and a team-leading 9.5 through a dozen games. Combine those with the six sacks he racked up as a rookie and Hunter has 15.5 sacks in his career, the most by any player selected in the 2015 draft. The former third-round pick has one more career sack than Vic Beasley, a first-rounder of the Falcons, and he is one of five players from his draft class with double-digit sacks.

21 — total pressures allowed by the Vikings against the Cowboys

The Vikings had done a solid job in recent games of keeping quarterback Sam Bradford off his back. A lot of that had to do with their quick-hitting passing attack. But their linemen also deserved a little credit for doing a bit better in pass protection. The line was back to being a liability last week, though, as the Cowboys totaled 21 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, while sacking Bradford four times and hitting him nine times. In their previous three games, the Vikings had allowed only 24 total pressures.

3.0 — the current yards-per-carry average for the Vikings

Just a few weeks ago, the Vikings were on pace to have the NFL’s least potent rushing attack since 1953. After their loss to the Redskins, they were averaging only 2.7 yards per carry. In each of the past two games, though, the Vikings topped 80 rushing yards, bringing their season average up to 3.0 yards per carry. Well, technically, it’s a little less than that but rounds up, so we’ll give them a generous spot. But if they keep getting 4.8 yards per run like they did the past two weeks, they’ll clear it by season’s end.

4 — consecutive losses on the road for Mike Zimmer’s team

For a while, the Vikings were road warriors under Zimmer. They won five of their final six road games last season and took their first two this season, in Tennessee and Carolina. Then have since lost four straight away from U.S. Bank Stadium, starting with the loss in Philadelphia, followed by the ones in Chicago, D.C. then Detroit. To make the playoffs, they will probably need to snap the skid at Jacksonville, who has only one home win in 2016.

-18 — turnover differential for the Jaguars, worst in the league

One reason why the Jaguars aren’t good at home, or anywhere else for that matter, is that they have the NFL’s worst turnover differential. Blake Bortles has thrown a league-high 15 interceptions and the Jaguars have also lost 10 fumbles. Meanwhile, their defense has only produced seven takeaways. The Vikings, despite dropping to .500, still rank second in the NFL with a plus-13 differential, trailing only the Chiefs, who are plus-14.

Mike Zimmer, sporting an eye patch, is back with the Vikings

Mike Zimmer, six days removed from emergency eye surgery and four days after a follow-up procedure, was back coaching the Vikings today as players reported back to Winter Park after getting the weekend off.

As the Vikings practiced indoors this morning, Zimmer wore a white eyepatch over his right eye as he watched his team go through individual drills with his left eye. His vision in his good eye was good enough for him to bark instructions to wideout Stefon Diggs from about 50 yards away.

Zimmer will not speak with reporters until tomorrow morning. It will be the first time since surgery to repair a detached retina last Wednesday.

Zimmer wasn’t the only one returning to practice. Center Joe Berger, who missed last week’s loss to the Cowboys due to a concussion, was back at practice, so were cornerbacks Marcus Sherels and Mackensie Alexander.

Meanwhile, Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith, who last Thursday left U.S. Bank Stadium on crutches, was not spotted at practice. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and linebacker Edmond Robinson also sat out the practice.

12:00 PM, 12/11 (FOX)
Minnesota 6-6
Jacksonville 2-10

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