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Bleacher Report – Vikings

4 thoughts: Rhodes, Barr Train, Patterson gets involved, Sirles

By Derek Wetmore

MINNEAPOLIS –The Vikings frustrated another great opposing quarterback on Monday Night Football and their offense showed an ability to move the ball, convert first downs and finish drives with points. Add it all up and Minnesota is now 4-0 after beating the Giants, 24-10.

This column presents 4 thoughts from Monday’s Vikings win:

1. Tensions ran hot Monday, especially between Odell Beckham Jr. and Vikings corner Xavier Rhodes.

At one point, defensive backs coach Jerry Gray had to physically pull Rhodes back to the sidelines before a verbal argument escalated any further than that and yellow flags started to fly.

It never got to that point for Rhodes or the Vikings – the corner wisely took Gray’s advice to “stay composed” and “stay on your game.”

But Beckham did get called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and after the game, told reporters that it’s clear he has a target on his back and will get called for penalties that other players simply wouldn’t draw.

Rhodes came away with the last laugh, as his team won the game and he had an interception on an overthrown Eli Manning pass, which was clearly the result of confusion amid Vikings’ pressure, or a miscommunication, or possibly both.

In my opinion this was Rhodes’ second consecutive great game since returning from injury. Last week he held Panthers’ receiver Kelvin Benjamin to just one target all afternoon.

2. Did anyone catch the number of that train?

I’ll help you out, it was No. 55.

Anthony Barr made this big impact when shedding a blocker, who had to be removed from the game with a concussion.

Here’s why Larry Donnell is hurt … pic.twitter.com/37GLQO9XSV

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 4, 2016

Barr is a force, and in his rookie year, we referred to him on the Purple Podcast as Death to Screen Passes. He was a one-man wrecking crew who could engage a blocker, shed him, and get to the ball carrier without needing support. He didn’t make the tackle here, but it was a huge impact.

It’s often hard for me to watch a guy stumbling around concussed, but this is the nature of the beast in the NFL.

3. I continue to be impressed with Cordarrelle Patterson, who has emerged as a viable offensive weapon and a big-time contributor on special teams.

Once again, Patterson made a standout play as a gunner on the punt team, when he basically forced a fumble by being right on top of the return man as he was about to catch the ball. The Vikings recovered that and capped a six-play drive when Matt Asiata bowled his way into the end zone to put his team on top early. Sometimes the gunner on the punt team is a thankless job, but when you stand out the way Patterson has the past two weeks, it’s a big benefit to the team’s chances.

Patterson was also valuable on offense, which is a new wrinkle to his game. It was clear based on his level of involvement that the Vikings had him in some personnel groupings, and at times it looked like there was an entire chapter of the game plan with Patterson’s name on it. Some screen plays, at least one wildcat look, and some more typical routes led to Patterson’s best offensive game in recent memory. Faint praise, perhaps, but he really impacted the game in the first half in a positive way for the Vikings.

Bradford looked to connect with Patterson six times, and he caught five passes for 38 yards.

4. Jeremiah Sirles entered the game when right tackle Andre Smith left with an elbow injury. Smith was ruled out to return Monday with the injury, and to my untrained eye, I thought his replacement did a bang-up job.

Sam Bradford didn’t always have all the time in the world, but I rarely noticed pressure coming from Bradford’s front side (the right tackle position). There were also a few run plays behind Sirles in which the tackle cleared space for Vikings’ backs and helped them gain an extra yard or two.

For an offensive line in near-constant flux – OK, constant flux – the Vikings may have found some success with this latest plug-and-play. Based on the film and stats reviews from Arif Hasan, I’ve gleaned that Smith has been a liability this year. Not that an injury is ever a good thing, especially for a line that’s already been thinned by injury. But in this case the injury didn’t appear to devastate the Vikings’ chances.

Sirles filled in at left guard last week when Alex Boone was hurt in Carolina. Seemed to me like he did absolutely fine in the second half in spot duty. Then Boone returned this week at his left guard spot, and Sirles filled in capably at right tackle.

Sam Bradford said the game ball for Monday’s win belongs to the offensive line.

It’s surprising to me that the O-line has taken so many hits and still looked all right Monday. (Need examples? Matt Kalil injured, Boone briefly injured, John Sullivan cut, Mike Harris mysteriously ill and unavailable, Phil Loadholt retired.) It’s just one game, sure, but with the schedule lightening up and the Vikings sitting at 4-0 despite some line problems in the past, for them to suddenly get competent play up front would be a significant development.

Plenty going on in that game. So much that Blair Walsh missed another field goal and we didn’t even mention it.

If you like the ‘4 thoughts’ column on the Vikings, you can get a summary emailed to you each week, so you never miss a column – even if 1500ESPN.com isn’t your homepage.

The post 4 thoughts: Rhodes, Barr Train, Patterson gets involved, Sirles appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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