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Bleacher Report – Vikings

With Joseph injured, Vikings’ D-line may be tasked with plugging more gaps

By Andrew Krammer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Tom Johnson has already set his career high in playing time this season with five games remaining in the regular season.

As the injuries keep stacking up for the Vikings’ defensive line, Johnson filled the largest void when Sharrif Floyd missed three games due to knee and ankle problems. Now, should the Vikings be without Linval Joseph on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, Johnson could step up again as Floyd may possibly see more time at nose tackle.

“I’m a man of many strengths,” Floyd said Thursday. “If coach can believe in me, I can believe in me, it’s not a hard thing.”

Joseph has missed practices this week because of a foot injury that limited him in Atlanta. During the open portion of Thursday’s practice, Johnson and Floyd took the field together along the interior of the defensive line. The Vikings also have nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, who was signed in October after Shamar Stephen was placed on injured reserve. Ellis hasn’t played more than 14 snaps in a game since coming to Minnesota.

“[Ellis] is a better nose than he is three technique,” Zimmer said. “We haven’t dressed that many noses the past few weeks.”

Like they’ve done all season, when Everson Griffen was forced to miss a game, Floyd three games and Stephen most of the season, the Vikings could plug the gap by committee. Depending on the matchup and situation on any given play, Joseph and Floyd have bounced between nose (over center) and three-technique defensive tackle (over guard) while Johnson and defensive end Brian Robison provide a boost from the interior on pass-rushing downs.

Sans Joseph, the pressure falls on Floyd and Johnson, who’s in line for his career-high fifth start of the season. Zimmer alluded Seattle’s run-blocking style could make things easier on a Vikings’ line possibly stripped of its heaviest starter in the 329-pound Joseph.

“This team is a big zone-blocking team,” Zimmer said. “So [Johnson] will be coming off the rear ends as opposed to trying to hang in there and play the double teams and things like that.”

The post With Joseph injured, Vikings’ D-line may be tasked with plugging more gaps appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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