Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn’t think the Chiefs will change much this week even though their offensive identity was built around running back Jamaal Charles, who is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in Sunday’s loss to the Bears.
Then again …
“There is always the uncertainty,” said Zimmer, whose team plays the Chiefs on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. “They’ve got a lot of tight ends, so they can line up in all tight ends like San Francisco did and try that. … There’s a possibility they may go five receivers or four receivers and a tight end … or put [5-10, 176-pound receiver De’Anthony] Thomas in the backfield and use him as their screen guy” the way they used Charles in the passing game.
Chiefs promote Ware
A day after trying out veteran free agent running backs Ben Tate, Pierre Thomas and Bryce Brown, the Chiefs promoted Spencer Ware from their practice squad. That’s one sign they don’t intend to drastically change despite Charles’ injury and their current four-game losing streak.
Ware is a 5-10, 228-pound tailback/fullback. His regular-season experience is limited to two games for the Super Bowl champion Seahawks as a rookie sixth-round draft pick in 2013. This preseason, he ran for 66 yards while catching seven passes for the Chiefs.
Charcandrick West, who has 12 career carries, is expected to start and share the load with Knile Davis, who has two career 100-yard games. All of coach Andy Reid’s backs, as well as Thomas and tight end Travis Kelce, are well-schooled in the multifaceted screen game that the Chiefs lean on heavily because of deficiencies on the line and at quarterback.
“They’ve got a terrific screen game, and it’s not always with [Charles],” Zimmer said. “Sometimes it’s with Thomas, sometimes it’s with Kelce. They average about six screens a game, so they do a great job there.
“The running game, who knows? I think they’ll be similar to the things that they’ve done. … Their backs, they’re good backs. I don’t want to take anything away from Jamaal Charles because he’s amazing, but [Knile] Davis has had some really good games. [Charcandrick] West hasn’t had a lot, but I know they like him a lot.”
Wallace says he’ll play
The Mike Wallace mystery was solved when the Vikings receiver showed up on Wednesday’s injury report because of a left knee injury. Wallace, whose injury wasn’t disclosed while he missed practices last week and Monday, did not practice again Wednesday.
For what it’s worth, Wallace said he has no doubt he’ll be ready to play Sunday. After practice, he ran some routes for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and said he felt comfortable.
“It feels good. Really good. Extremely good,” Wallace said. “Just a little sore knee. … Everything should be back to normal [Thursday].”
Wallace hurt the knee when it was hit by a helmet in the first quarter of the Denver game. He finished the game, catching eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, receiver Charles Johnson (ribs) and safety Andrew Sendejo (knee) returned to practice and were limited Wednesday after missing the Broncos game. Defensive end Justin Trattou (foot) didn’t practice.
Wide receiver Jarius Wright, who played only one snap of the Denver game because of a hand injury, was a full practice participant Wednesday.
Make Smith throw it
Nose tackle Linval Joseph meant no offense, but he nailed the book on stopping the Chiefs’ offense when he said, “We just have to stop the run and make Alex Smith throw the ball” down the field.
Smith, who never lived up to being the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005, ranks 20th in passer rating (88.1).
“Even without Charles, they’re still a run-first team,” Joseph said. “So if we stop the run and force Smith to throw, good things will happen for us.”
Staff writer Jason Gonzalez contributed to this report.