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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.

McKinnon feeling better but misses second straight Vikings practice

Running back Jerick McKinnon this morning was no longer wearing a walking boot to support his injured left ankle. But when the Vikings took the field this afternoon for today’s practice, McKinnon was not spotted.

Before practice, we asked McKinnon whether he thinks he will be healthy enough to play Monday night against the Bears. McKinnon said he is feeling better but deferred to his head coach about his game-day availability.

He smirked a little knowing that Mike Zimmer wouldn’t say either.

If McKinnon does sit out, Ronnie Hillman, who made his Vikings debut in the loss to the Eagles, would likely see an increase in playing time.

"He's getting more and more comfortable with our offense," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said of Hillman, who signed with the team last month. "Now that he's active he's getting more reps. I think he has a good understanding of what we're doing. We know he's had success as a runner. I think he's getting to where he can contribute more."

Also sitting out practice today were safety Andrew Sendejo (ankle), wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (concussion), cornerback Marcus Sherels (wrist), guard Zac Kerin (hand) and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee).

Vikings need tackle Sirles at his best Monday against Bears

Every week following the Access Vikings Gameday Preview podcast we'll delve deeper into the player Andrew Krammer pegged as a potential difference maker for the upcoming game.

Until recently, Jeremiah Sirles never really had a chance to get going in the NFL.

Sirles, the third-year undrafted tackle out of Nebraska, arrived in Minnesota via trade last year and didn’t see any game action until Alex Boone injured his hip last month. He’d nearly double his career snap total (112) over the next two games, filling in at both left guard and right tackle. He played well enough to earn a starting look and was elevated anyway after Andre Smith’s season-ending triceps injury.

There have been speed bumps, including last week in Philadelphia where the Eagles knocked the ball out of Sam Bradford’s hand four times, including twice from Sirles’ side. Though the problem was much greater. Bradford was hit 18 times in all with 11.5 coming from defenders blocked by the Vikings’ tackle rotation. At times in Philly, Sirles was bumped to the bench with T.J. Clemmings moved to right tackle for 13 snaps.Clemmings’ play was worse on the right side, Mike Zimmer said this week, so it’s possible Sirles starts and stays there in a future rotation.

And the Vikings need Sirles’ best on Monday night in Chicago, where he faces a tough matchup in Bears edge rusher Willie Young. Young’s six sacks ranks sixth among all NFL players, while Sirles is just three weeks removed from helping to limit Jason Pierre-Paul to one quarterback hit.

Sirles (6-6, 315) has the size and the brain to play every position along the offensive line. He’s praised as a try-hard guy and the effort shows on game days. When he keeps his feet moving, he can ward off even JPP as he did during his first fill-in duty at right tackle in Week 4. Sirles (78) gets some inside help from Brandon Fusco (63) while keeping step for step with JPP’s outside rush.

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But Sirles can play too rigid at times and a recent knee injury hasn’t helped. His play really slipped at the end in Philadelphia, when both of the strip-sacks he allowed came within a few plays of each other in the fourth quarter. On the play below, Sirles stops his feet and bends forward, surrenderinga quick path to Bradford.

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7:30 PM, 10/31 (ESPN)
Minnesota 5-1
Chicago 1-6

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