CHARLOTTE – Another game, another key injury along the Vikings offensive line.
Three days after left tackle Matt Kalil had hip surgery that likely ended his season — and maybe his Vikings career — left guard Alex Boone was injured in the second quarter of Sunday’s 22-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Boone, the team’s prized free-agent addition this offseason, was carted to the locker room with a hip injury and did not return.
Third-year lineman Jeremiah Sirles got the call over Zac Kerin to replace Boone.
Boone declined to comment after the game. Coach Mike Zimmer said that Boone was scheduled to get a magnetic resonance exam back in Minneapolis on Monday morning.
“On the O-line, we can’t afford to lose more guys,” outside linebacker Chad Greenway said.
Corner store is open
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who missed the first two games of the season due to a knee injury, made his 2016 debut against the Panthers and college teammate Kelvin Benjamin.
Rhodes got the start, as did veteran Terence Newman. But on an extra hot and muggy day (temperatures in the 80s, humidity in the 60 percent range) in Charlotte, Zimmer rotated those two along with Trae Waynes at the outside corner spots. And after nickelback Captain Munnerlyn took a seat because of to cramps, veteran Marcus Sherels and rookie Mackensie Alexander both made cameos late in the game. So all six corners played.
“That’s crazy. That number don’t happen,” said Munnerlyn, who started his career with the Panthers. “But we needed those guys today. We weren’t used to this heat. It’s different. I always told those guys, ‘This Carolina heat is different,’ and it really showed today.”
As a unit, the Vikings cornerbacks prevented Benjamin from recording a catch. Ditto for fellow wide receiver Devin Funchess, though Munnerlyn said they weren’t worried about him.
“[The focus] was Kelvin Benjamin,” Munnerlyn said. “I don’t think he is that good, No. 17.”
Hold on, babies, hold on
Kyle Rudolph and his wife, Jordan, are expecting twins any day now. But the big tight end said that there was no way he was missing Sunday’s game against the Panthers.
“If she goes into labor early [Sunday] … her doctors said we would try to prolong it as long as she could,” he said. “That’s how tough Jordan is — she was OK with that. If that was going to happen, she was going to hold off as long as she could until we got back. But there was no circumstance where I wasn’t going to be down here with the guys.”
The Vikings were glad Rudolph could make it. He led the team with seven catches for 70 yards and caught a touchdown pass from Sam Bradford for a second straight week.
So far, so good for Bradford
Bradford was 18-for-28 for 171 yards, with the longest completion a 19-yarder where Adam Thielen made a one-handed catch.
Bradford is clearly enjoying the start to his Vikings career.
“It’s the guys inside of the locker room,” he said. “They’ve been adamant, they’ve been vocal about it, they’ve made me comfortable in the locker room, and they’ve made me comfortable in the huddle. I think that’s really helped my transition into this offense.
Missing the point again
Blair Walsh helped the Vikings put the game away by booting field goals from 28 and 31 yards during the fourth quarter. But the struggling kicker missed another 33-yard extra point during the second quarter, which drew the ire of his head coach after the win.
In the third quarter, after Rudolph’s touchdown gave the Vikings a 14-10 lead, Zimmer opted to go for two instead of bringing out Walsh. They converted on the play.
“He’s got to make those extra points,” Zimmer said. “That’s why I went for two — and I probably shouldn’t say that. … I was just trying to get us back on schedule.”
As for the other guys ...
First-round pick Laquon Treadwell, who was active the first two games of the season but played a total of only two snaps, was a healthy scratch Sunday. Veteran Jarius Wright, who was inactive in those two games, made his first appearance of the season.
In other injury news, rookie tight end David Morgan was knocked out of the game with a knee injury. Munnerlyn and middle linebacker Eric Kendricks battled cramps but are fine.