The Vikings’ first road trip of the 2020 season comes under a pamphlet of new restrictions, but early returns are good after Week 1’s road teams emerged unscathed while traveling amid the pandemic.
Inside Lucas Oil Stadium, the roof and window facing downtown Indianapolis are open under clear skies and an expected 66 degrees at kickoff. It’s a great September day for football, which will be played in front of 2,500 fans allowed to attend by the team and local government.
Among the top Vikings storylines are new contributors after two injuries — cornerback Cameron Dantzler (rib) and right guard Pat Elflein (thumb) — popped up this week. Dantzler’s injury opens up a lane for first-round cornerback Jeff Gladney, whose recovery continues from a surgically-repaired right knee. But Gladney was a full participant in practices this week and is expected to play more against the Colts after seeing nine defensive snaps vs. the Packers.
Guard Dru Samia, the 2019 fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma, is expected to make his first NFL start on the right side for Elflein, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday without being on the injury report, indicating he injured his thumb sometime after practicing Wednesday.
Three rookies — second-round guard Ezra Cleveland, fourth-round defensive end D.J. Wonnum and sixth-round safety Josh Metellus — are active for their first NFL games. They’re all expected to be reserves.
The Vikings will see a familiar face in Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes (now No. 27), who signed a one-year deal with Indianapolis in free agency and started their opener in Jacksonville.
“Xavier has brought some swag to the defense,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said this week. “He brought a physicality, you could just tell Week 1 even though we didn’t play our best game as a team, there were a handful of plays where physically he made his presence known.”
One surprise for the Colts — starting cornerback Rock Ya-Sin is inactive and won’t play vs. the Vikings. Ya-Sin was not on the injury report this week.
Vikings’ inactives: Dantzler (rib), WR Chad Beebe, tackle Oli Udoh, CB Harrison Hand, DE Eddie Yarbrough and DT James Lynch
Colts’ inactives: TE Jack Doyle (ankle/knee), QB Jacob Eason, CB Rock Ya-Sin, LB E.J. Speed, DT Eli Ankou and WR Dezmon Patmon
The Vikings on Saturday elevated cornerback Mark Fields, who was the No. 3 slot corner during training camp. He’ll be available as added depth against the Colts. Fields will revert to the practice squad after the game and won’t be exposed to waivers under new guidelines that allow game promotions on a limited basis.