The Vikings will be without their No. 1 quarterback, top receiver and starting left guard Sunday against the high-scoring Packers.
Quarterback Sam Bradford (knee), receiver Stefon Diggs (groin) and left guard Nick Easton (calf) have been ruled out for Sunday, according to coach Mike Zimmer. Case Keenum will get his fourth start after going 1-2 in Bradford’s absence, including leading two touchdown drives in relief during the 20-17 win in Chicago on Monday night.
Keenum has played better than his career numbers would project, completing a career-high 64.5 percent of his passes in four games for 895 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
“[Keenum] brings a lot of energy,” said guard Jeremiah Sirles, who is expected to start for Easton, out because of a calf injury suffered against the Bears. “I think that was apparent last week when he came in. Guys really rallied behind him, because he has a smile on his face and he literally looks like he’s just having fun all the time.”
He’ll have to do without the Vikings’ top receiver, Diggs, who will sit out a third time in the past 12 games because of injury. Diggs is dealing with a groin injury suffered in Chicago. He said the injury isn’t as bad as the one that limited him for a few games last season, but he was unable to practice all week.
The Vikings will have to adjust without Diggs, who is sixth in the NFL with 395 receiving yards.
“Obviously it’s going to change a little bit,” Zimmer said. “Because he’s a good player.”
Receivers Michael Floyd and Laquon Treadwell were mentioned by Zimmer when asked how the Vikings will make up for Diggs’ absence against the Packers.
Floyd in line for more?
Floyd said he expects to get more work for the Vikings on Sunday without Diggs in the lineup. Floyd caught his lone target for 19 yards in his 32-snap debut last week in Chicago.
“I felt comfortable out there, like I haven’t missed a beat,” said Floyd, who has 14 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns in three career games against the Packers. “[Diggs] isn’t a player you can replace, but you want to go in there and do everything you can.”
The Vikings might miss Diggs against the Packers’ banged-up secondary with cornerback Kevin King doubtful and safety Morgan Burnett ruled out. Another starting cornerback, Davon House, is questionable.
Diggs leads the Vikings with eight catches of at least 20 yards. Floyd had 55 such deep grabs for the Cardinals from 2012-16.
Packers running back Ty Montgomery is questionable, though he has been a full participant at practice wearing a flak jacket to protect broken ribs. Starting offensive tackles David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and Bryan Bulaga (ankle) are also questionable.
‘A bad call’
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer likes to be aggressive in his calls. That was the case Monday night when he called to rush the Bears punter on a short field. Instead of a block, the Bears switched to a fake punt and scored on a 38-yard pass.
“I was very upset with myself,” Priefer said. “They caught us in something. I should not have made that call. We should not have been in that situation.”
The Vikings defense should be near full strength after safety Andrew Sendejo returned to practice Friday. He’s still listed as questionable while dealing with a groin injury. If Sendejo can’t go, either safety Anthony Harris or Jayron Kearse would start.
Defensive tackle Tom Johnson, who has an injured knee, will play after sitting out earlier this week. Linebacker Eric Kendricks also will play after being limited in practice this week because of an injured shoulder.
Jaleel Johnson fined
Rookie Jaleel Johnson’s first four NFL snaps were costly. The defensive tackle was fined $9,115 by the NFL for grabbing Bears running back Tarik Cohen by the facemask on Monday night, according to a league source.