Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford is officially listed as questionable to play Monday night in Chicago.
By practicing three consecutive days, Bradford took a step toward his eventual return, but he has yet to put together a full practice on his swollen left knee since suffering the injury in the Sept. 11 win against the Saints.
Bradford said earlier in the week he did not think he’d be a game-time decision Monday, but the Vikings are keeping the option open even though Case Keenum took some of Bradford’s practice reps this week. Keenum may make his fourth start for the Vikings after throwing for 755 yards and three touchdowns in three games for Bradford.
Coach Mike Zimmer didn’t offer much insight on Bradford’s status, only saying “we’ll see” if he plays against the Bears and that he looked “good” in practice.
Also on the injury front, swing tackle Rashod Hill will miss his second game due to a knee injury suffered while slipping on the grass in practice last week. Hill said he expects to be back next week. Reserve lineman Jeremiah Sirles is the expected No. 3 tackle again against the Bears.
Safety and special teams contributor Jayron Kearse, who is dealing with a groin injury, is listed as questionable to play in Chicago.
The Bears will be without outside linebacker Willie Young, and not just for Sunday, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday. Young has a triceps tear that will require surgery and end his season. He has 26 sacks in 50 games with the Bears.
Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (chest) is doubtful. Center Hroniss Grasu (hand) and cornerback Marcus Cooper (back) are questionable.
On the video boards during Vikings games, you’ll see long snapper Kevin McDermott pairing with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office to spread an important message about the opioid crisis, which is a national epidemic killing thousands of Americans annually.
“They had asked if I’d be open to doing a public service announcement with them about the opioid crisis,” said McDermott, the fifth-year NFL pro. “In my extended family, I’ve had some people who have struggled with addiction – alcohol and prescription drugs. It’s personal to me and [it] feels like is an important message.”
Opioid-related deaths have increased annually in Minnesota since 2010, according to Star Tribune analysis, most recently peaking at 402 in 2016.
Floyd bringing speed
The Vikings expect receiver Michael Floyd to make an impact Monday in Chicago upon his return from a four-game suspension. The veteran’s speed could be the biggest boost at split end, where Laquon Treadwell has been taking snaps.
“Mike is a little faster than people will give him credit for. That’s sort of what I factored in after watching him here in the training sessions,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said.
A unique challenge
The Vikings’ NFL-best punt coverage team — allowing just three returns for a loss of 1 yard through four games — is bracing for a unique threat in Bears rookie running back Tarik Cohen. He’s a shifty and hard-to-find (5-6) target averaging more than 6 yards per touch on offense.
“He’s fast, he’s strong, breaks tackles,” special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said. “He’ll keep me up Sunday night, Monday all day long.
“I’ll be worried about him, but if we can control the direction and control the distance and hang of our punts, then obviously we can cover him a lot better.”
Vikings defensive ends are getting a lot of attention from opponents, and Monday should be no different. Defensive end Danielle Hunter, who had two of the defense’s six sacks on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford last week, said Everson Griffen was drawing three blockers from Detroit on certain pass plays.
“Once we put [Brian Robison] where Griff was supposed to be, and they tripled him,” Hunter said.