Linebacker Eric Kendricks injured his quad in the second quarter of the Vikings’ 23-10 loss to the Packers on Monday night, putting his availability in question for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Bears, a game that holds no playoff implications as the Vikings’ loss locked Minnesota into the NFC’s sixth seed.
“We’ll see,” Kendricks said. “It’s early, so we’ll see as the week goes on.”
Kendricks’ injury, which occurred during his second fumble recovery of the first half, was felt by a Vikings defense that surrendered 154 rushing yards to Packers running back Aaron Jones. That included a 54-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, a play after linebacker Anthony Barr also hobbled off the field.
“I feel OK,” Barr said. “We’ll see how it goes this week. I just cramped up pretty good there.”
Should coach Mike Zimmer decide to hold out Kendricks, Barr or both linebackers against the Bears, linebackers Eric Wilson and Kentrell Brothers would likely start. Wilson, who finished with eight combined tackles against the Packers, already stepped into the weakside linebacker spot for Ben Gedeon, who was placed on injured reserve Dec. 2 because of concussions.
After Kendricks exited, Wilson finished the game as the passing-down linebacker next to Barr. Wilson also relayed Zimmer’s defensive play calls, typically Barr’s job, at the end of the game when Barr exited.
“It’s not my usual spot, but for what it was I think I did a good job,” Wilson said. “There are a couple plays I can do a lot better on, but overall I was just finding the ball.”
Diggs ties Moss’ streak
Stefon Diggs’ 21-yard touchdown catch, with a beautiful display of footwork to get open against Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander, tied Hall of Famer Randy Moss’ Vikings record for most consecutive games — seven — with at least one touchdown catch in the rivalry. Diggs was the offense’s lone bright spot with three catches for 57 yards and the score.
Diggs, who missed one Vikings-Packers game in 2017, has now caught at least one touchdown pass in every meeting between the teams he’s played in the past four seasons.
Diggs later attempted his first NFL pass — an incompletion when coordinator Kevin Stefanski dialed up a Philly Special-type play. On a reverse, Diggs caught a pitch and threw to quarterback Kirk Cousins, who made a leaping attempt at the overthrown pass.
Harris stars again
Safety Anthony Harris, who has one more regular-season game left on his Vikings contract, has set himself up nicely for contract negotiations this offseason — whether with the Vikings or other teams in March’s free agency.
Harris nabbed his sixth interception of the year, a career high and most by a Vikings defender since safety Darren Sharper had nine interceptions in 2005.
“Just being aggressive and attacking,” Harris said. “I mean, that’s the entire team’s mind-set. You saw a number of guys [Monday night] punching at the ball.”
Run game stagnant
Running back Alexander Mattison’s sprained ankle sidelined him for a second game, as he was inactive against the Packers. Mattison joined Dalvin Cook (chest), who was ruled out.
Second-year running back Mike Boone got his first NFL start but struggled to find room against the Packers defense. Boone finished with 11 carries for 28 rushing yards.
Ameer Abdullah had the Vikings’ longest run, a 14-yard gain against soft defense on a third-and-19 play. The Vikings offense has averaged 85.8 rushing yards in the past five games, well below the season average of 130.6.