Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph used a question about Philadelphia’s famously raucous home crowd to remind folks just how quiet Lincoln Financial Field can get when the out-of-towners execute with precision.
“For us as players, it’s a great road atmosphere to play in,” Rudolph said Thursday. “It’s loud. The fans are into the game. I still remember how that place exploded [in the NFC Championship Game] last year. But I also remember how quiet it was on the first drive.”
The Vikings opened that game with a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. They ran the ball six times — including three in a row to open the game — for 27 yards and two first downs. And Case Keenum targeted three different players, going 3-for-3 for 48 yards, two first downs and a 25-yard touchdown to Rudolph.
After that, the Eagles scored 38 unanswered points.
“Starting fast is important, but we also have to finish on Sunday,” Rudolph said. “Finish is kind of a word that’s been emphasized throughout this week.”
Thielen does it all
So who’s the best backup long-snapper on the Vikings’ 53-man roster?
“Adam Thielen is probably our best backup snapper,” said Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer, referring to the star receiver who earned his NFL stripes on special teams.
“I’m certainly not putting a Pro Bowl receiver in there on punt and field goal,” he added. “I might get in trouble for that.”
The topic of backup long-snappers came up Thursday because Priefer has now had to use one twice in eight games going back to last year in Green Bay.
Kevin McDermott missed part of the second quarter of last week’s Rams game after the tip of his left pinkie finger got stuck in a helmet and was ripped off. Tight end David Morgan, who had never long-snapped before being called on at Green Bay last year, stepped in successfully for a punt snap and a PAT snap.
“Thursdays after practice, we have the backup snappers and holders work for 10 to 15 minutes,” Priefer said. “That’s important because it’s now happened to us twice in the last year.”
Past backup long-snappers have included All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen, who was drafted as a long-snapper, and linebacker Chad Greenway.
Just to be safe, Priefer now has a backup to his backup long-snapper. Tyler Conklin, a third-string tight end, also partakes in those Thursday backup snapper sessions.
“It’s crazy,” Priefer said. “I’ve never had it happen this often.”
Is the caller there?
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said the Vikings plan for the kind of helmet transmitter malfunction that quarterback Kirk Cousins experienced around the time of the two-point conversion pass to Latavius Murray in the third quarter of the Rams game.
“Our quarterbacks have a [backup] call for every personnel grouping that we have on the field,” he said. “We’re prepared for that situation because it happens all the time. Just Google certain venues in the NFL that [it happens] more so than others. You’re always ready for that situation.”
Cook, Waynes still out
Running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring) and cornerback Trae Waynes (concussion) were held out of practice again. Tashawn Bower (ankle) also sat out after being limited Wednesday.
Asked how he’d characterize Cook’s availability for Sunday’s game, Zimmer said, “Probably questionable.”
Punt returner Marcus Sherels (ribs) was limited again. And defensive end Everson Griffen remains away from the team dealing with personal issues.
Quote of the day
“Well, honestly, a lot of it is the fact that we’ve been losing a lot of ballgames and had to come from behind. Sometimes, stats don’t tell the whole story.” — Thielen when asked to explain his fast start, which includes 473 yards receiving, a team record through four games.