Injuries continue to pile up on offense for the undefeated Vikings.
Right tackle Andre Smith was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Texans because of a triceps injury suffered on his sixth snap Monday night against the Giants. Third-year lineman Jeremiah Sirles is expected to start; he filled in for Smith during Monday's game and throughout practice this week.
"It's going to be a good challenge for me," Sirles said Friday. "And a good gauge for where I'm at as a player."
Smith is the second Vikings tackle to miss a game in this young season after left tackle Matt Kalil required surgery on his hip and was placed on injured reserve last month. When asked if injured reserve is a consideration for Smith, coach Mike Zimmer said the team would re-evaluate his injury during next week's bye. Smith said he does not expect to be held back long.
Sirles, 25, will make his second career start and first since his 2014 rookie season with the San Diego Chargers. Sirles (6-6, 315 pounds) has experience playing all five positions along the offensive line, recently plugging in at left guard in Week 3 against Carolina when Alex Boone injured his hip.
Sirles went undrafted out of Nebraska.
"It's just kind of the nature of the beast," Sirles said. "You have to take advantage of opportunities."
Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford likely will be without one of his favorite targets Sunday.
Stefon Diggs did not practice all week and is listed as doubtful against the Texans. His expected absence could open the door for the Vikings' former primary slot receiver, Jarius Wright, who has been a healthy scratch for three of four games.
"Hopefully I get a chance to play this week," Wright said. "If I don't, I'll still be happy."
Cordarrelle Patterson also could continue to be involved after seeing his heaviest workload on offense Monday (36 snaps) in nearly two years. The Texans boast the league's No. 1 pass defense, having allowed only one passing touchdown in four games.
Another dynamic trio
The Vikings defense held down one of the NFL's best receiving trios Monday in the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard. The three could muster only 103 receiving yards.
Zimmer sees another difficult test ahead from the Texans' three-, sometimes four-wide, receiver sets that feature a variety of talent between big targets in DeAndre Hopkins and Jaelen Strong and rookie speedsters Will Fuller and Braxton Miller.
"Fuller is real fast, Braxton Miller is maybe the fastest and [DeAndre] Hopkins is a big, physical guy that can go up and get the ball — great hands," Zimmer said. "Sets of receivers are different, but these guys are good."
Two more ruled out
Rhett Ellison and David Morgan, the Vikings' two primary blocking tight ends, likely will not play.
Morgan has officially been ruled out after missing practice all week with a knee injury. Ellison is doubtful to play because of a knee injury. To compensate in the run game, fullback Zach Line could see extra work.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has also been ruled out for Sunday. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last week.
•Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon was not penalized, but was fined $12,154 by the NFL for his touchdown celebration Monday night that included grabbing his crotch. The NFL has made unsportsmanlike conduct and taunting points of emphasis this season.
•Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was fined $24,309 for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Monday night after getting in the face of Xavier Rhodes after a play. Rhodes was penalized once for illegal use of hands, but did not incur any fines.