Minnesota Vikings: Can Sharrif Floyd Be an Immediate Difference Maker?
Knee injuries have garnered headlines for the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive line this preseason, with rookie Sharrif Floyd and veteran Kevin Williams both suffering injuries ahead of Week 1 against the Detroit Lions.
Floyd injured his left knee in the Vikings’ preseason opener against the Houston Texans, but he played in the team’s second preseason game before undergoing what was called a “minor procedure” on Aug. 19. There was never much doubt Floyd would be ready for the start of the season, and all indications are he will play Sunday.
Williams was injured on a questionable low hit by San Francisco 49ers guard Joe Looney during Minnesota’s third preseason game on Aug. 25, and suffered a severe bone contusion and posterior capsular strain in his right knee. On a positive note Williams avoided ligament damage, but it would be surprising if he did not miss a game or two at this point.
Williams did not practice on Monday, while Floyd was reportedly a full participant at the start of the session as the Vikings begin their regular game week preparation. The team has the day off Tuesday, and Williams will have the rest of the week to get on the practice field and prove himself ready to go for Sunday’s game. His knowledge of the Vikings’ defensive system should benefit him overall, but the bigger concern will be over how effective he can be at less than 100 percent.
Floyd should see plenty of action in his NFL debut regardless of Williams’ health, and he is in line to start if Williams is inactive. As the first of the Vikings’ three first-round picks in April, Floyd was expected to split time with Williams while learning under the veteran’s wing this season, but that plan now looks certain to be altered. The biggest question for Floyd will be his level of conditioning after missing so much practice time, and by the time Sunday comes he will not have seen game action in just over three weeks.
Chase Baker could see a lot of action against the Lions if Williams and Floyd are out or at all limited, and defensive end Everson Griffen could also see some time inside. Williams’ health going forward will clearly impact how much playing time Floyd sees, but as long as he remains healthy and keeps his conditioning up to par I expect the rookie to become an impact player immediately for the Vikings.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.