The Vikings officially ruled Kevin Williams out of Sunday’s season opener at Detroit, but the veteran defensive tackle expects to play against Chicago in Week 2.
“I’m real hopeful for next week,” he said. “I’d be shocked if I didn’t play next week.”
This will be the first game Williams has missed because of injury since 2005. He suffered a hyperextended right knee, a bone contusion and a posterior capsular strain on a low hit in the San Francisco preseason game. He was on crutches last week, but he said the swelling has subsided.
“It’s a big improvement from last week,” he said. “I’m just trying to make strides and be ready for next week.”
Williams has been extremely durable throughout his decorated career. He’s started 156 games — one shy of Alan Page’s team record for starts by a defensive tackle — and has missed only two games because of injury in his career.
“It’s a little frustrating because I feel good,” he said. “I could probably try and play this week, but what’s the chance of trying to do that and miss four more after?”
Williams’ absence means first-round pick Sharrif Floyd likely will get more playing time than expected in his debut. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier didn’t announce who will start in Williams’ place, but he said Floyd has shown no lingering effects from a knee injury that sidelined him most of the preseason.
“I think he’s ready,” Frazier said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do so we’re going to let him go.”
Williams expressed confidence in the rookie.
“I think he’ll be fine,” he said. “We drafted him first round for a reason. He can play.”
On an island
The Vikings limited Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson to only five catches for 54 yards in a victory in Detroit last season. Chris Cook drew the primary coverage responsibilities that day, though he received plenty of help from his safeties. Cook said the key to defending the 6-5, 236-pound Johnson is to be physical at the line.
“He’s a guy that you want to slow down at the line,” Cook said. “He makes a lot of big plays going down the field and going up and playing the ball in the air. He’s going to make his plays. You try and limit him in as many ways as you can.”
Johnson set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards last season. That included 40 catches that netted at least 20 yards. Cook faces his toughest matchup of the season in Week 1.
“He brings out the best in me, him being the best receiver in the game today,” Cook said. “I have to be at my best, and everybody is expecting the best out of me. He’s going to get his touches. Even if he’s double-teamed, triple-teamed, they’re still going to give him the ball because they believe in his ability to make plays.”
The Vikings were one of only three NFL teams that started the same offensive line all 16 games last season, joining the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets.
The Vikings returned their entire line intact, which is a good thing, considering they face perhaps the best defensive line on their schedule in the opener.
Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are considered the best tandem in the NFL. That duo combined for more sacks (15.5) and tackles for loss on running plays (20.5) than any other tackle tandem in the league.
“They’re both All-Pro, Pro Bowl-caliber defensive linemen,” Vikings right guard Brandon Fusco said. “It’s a challenge for us. We have to be physical with them. It’s probably one of our most physical games of the year. These guys are no joke up front. They’re all power guys.”