Throw a challenging scenario at Norv Turner and chances are he’s already experienced something similar or worse during his lengthy NFL career.
Take, for instance, the challenge of preparing Sunday’s game plan without running back Adrian Peterson, who had knee surgery today, and left tackle Matt Kalil, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
Turner, of course, knows all about losing Peterson, having lost him for the last 15 games of the 2014 season. As for losing the team’s starting left tackle the past 66 games, well, that’s not ideal. But, as Turner noted earlier today, at least T.J. Clemmings has been practicing with the Vikings at left tackle since the start of training camp and filled in for Kalil for the final two preseason games.
It could be worse. Right Norv?
“I remember we played the Steelers [in 2012],” said Turner, referring to his time as head coach in San Diego. “I think it was my last year [in San Diego]. We signed two tackles on Tuesday night and both started on Sunday because we were banged up there. They were veteran guys and we actually won the game. That story had a happy ending.”
The Chargers upset the Steelers 34-24.
Teams go into a season knowing their final 53-man roster is far from actually being final.
“That’s the beauty now of having a larger practice squad now,” Turner said. “You hope some of them will be able to fill in. And then every team has an emergency list. You’d like not to have to go to that, but certainly in the years I was in San Diego, there were times we had to sign guys and get them ready to play because of injuries. You just have to approach it.”
As for the team’s mentality after injuries to Teddy Bridgewater, Peterson and Kalil, Turner said there’s a mental toughness that has filtered from coach Mike Zimmer throughout the team.
“We lost Teddy and brought Sam in here and everybody said, ‘How are you going to get him ready in 15 days?’” Turner said. “The great thing about this team, and it starts with coach Zimmer, is he has ingrained it in these guys, ‘We’re going to find a way, no matter what happens.’ It’s a mental toughness that he has ingrained in this team. And then it’s up to us as coaches to make sure we keep these guys in the best position to be successful. Then we have to have guys step up. That’s been the mindset around here for the last 2 1/2 years.