Cornerback Mackensie Alexander left Sunday’s 28-12 win against the Falcons in the second quarter because of a dislocated right elbow.
Alexander, the fourth-year slot corner, will undergo an MRI on Monday, according to coach Mike Zimmer, which will help determine the severity of his injury, which was confirmed by an NFL source. Safety Jayron Kearse played the rest of the game as the Vikings’ fifth defensive back.
“He’s doing pretty good. The injury’s not too bad,” Kearse said of Alexander. “He’s going to be around ready to fight for us when he comes back.”
Kearse, the fourth-year safety, could continue to play the slot role should Alexander miss games and if cornerback Mike Hughes is still unable to play while rehabbing his knee. Hughes was ruled out against the Falcons after practicing on a limited basis last week.
The Vikings were trying to play Kearse, the 6-foot-4 safety, on Sunday regardless, per Zimmer, with 6-foot-2 Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu running routes out of the slot.
“Sanu is a big, physical receiver,” Zimmer said, “so we planned on playing [Kearse] some anyway.”
Kearse, in a contract year, has proved adept at playing every position in the Vikings secondary.
“I definitely take pride in that,” Kearse said. “It’s good that coaches trust me to put me in a lot of positions.”
Believe it or not, cornerback Xavier Rhodes said one of the most difficult parts of defending All-Pro receiver Julio Jones on Sunday was hearing linebacker Anthony Barr relay the play calls in the huddle. The noise at U.S. Bank Stadium, while it helps disrupt opposing offenses, can also disrupt the defense.
There were no such hiccups against the Falcons as Jones, last year’s NFL receiving leader, was held to just six catches for 31 yards and a 2-yard touchdown — mostly with Rhodes as his shadow throughout the game.
“The number one thing is get your calls,” Rhodes said. “There’s a lot of confusion in the secondary if you don’t get the call, that’s when big plays start to happen.”
‘Why did you do that?’
Zimmer challenged the first pass interference call of the regular season when cornerback Trae Waynes was flagged twice, for defensive pass interference and illegal hands to the face, while defending Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley. The illegal contact was obvious — and Zimmer lost the challenge and a timeout — but he said the camera view he saw was different from what officials reviewed.
“The one I was seeing in the stadium was not the same one they were looking at,” Zimmer said. “I figured it was worth a shot to get them back to the 20-yard line, but then we intercepted the ball. Some of the players said why did you do that? They really didn’t, but I know they were thinking it.”
A work in progress
Quarterback Kirk Cousins raised eyebrows in his own locker room with a touchdown celebration he called “an inside joke” with former teammate and friend Tom Compton. Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook and receiver Adam Thielen were among Vikings players shimmying their shoulders in a circle and leaving tight end Kyle Rudolph perplexed.
“I’m not sure. We’re working on his dance moves,” Rudolph said. “I think he takes too much advice from Adam, who is not who you want to take advice from in terms of dance moves.”
• Asked about the Vikings’ 11 penalties for 100 yards, Zimmer said: “I’m going to harp on it pretty good this week. Hopefully that cleans it up.”
• Nose tackle Linval Joseph on the Vikings’ four early jump infractions on defense: “It was a little bit of [first-game nerves]. It really was kind of loud in there today. I almost jumped off one time and I’m right over the ball.”
• Tight end Tyler Conklin (ribs) did not play after he was injured during Friday’s practice. The Falcons lost two players — guard Chris Lindstrom (foot) and receiver Russell Gage (concussion) — to injuries during the game.