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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings offensive line wil face its toughest test vs. Rams

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line has been most responsible for the team’s most dynamic and explosive offense. But this Sunday at US Bank Stadium will mark the first time they face off with one of the league’s elite defensive lines.

Los Angeles ranks fifth in the NFL in sacks with 29 and has allowed a 73.3 quarterback rating against. Five of those sacks have come from defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who the highest ranked player in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.

“Their front is one of the best in the league and I’ve been around it first hand so I know exactly how good those guys are,” quarterback Case Keenum said. “There’s a guy Aaron Donald, if you know him, I think he’s underrated. Even if he’s player of the year, rookie of the year, I still think he’s underrated because he’s that good.”

Award voters haven’t underrated Donald. He’s been named All First-Team Associated Press, Pro Football Writers and Sporting News over the last two years and named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons.

“He’s really quick,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “He gets on the edges of guys and gets them turned and that’s where they’re making a lot of hay.”

“You try and get two hands on him as much as possible,” Zimmer added. “You get him on the ground as much as you can – trap him, cut him.”

The Vikings’ offensive line has only allowed one sack over the last five games. When Keenum was given a clean pocket last week against Washington, he went 17-for-20. When Washington pressured him, Keenum completed just 4-of-9 passes for 24 yards.

While Donald is the centerpiece of the Rams’ attack, they also have one of the league’s top defensive coordinators in Wade Phillips, who was at the help of the Denver Broncos two seasons ago when they won the Super Bowl on the back of a strong defensive line. Zimmer described what he sees in Phillips’ defense.

“Five man rush, two outside linebackers rushing,” Zimmer said. “They’re playing under with it with Aaron Donald being the three technique which is a handful, and then these two outside linebackers are difficult to block.”

One of the keys to the Vikings’ offensive success with Keenum under center has been their screen game. Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who has often been a weapon on play-action throws and screens, pointed out Wednesday the Rams’ roster is fit to slow down quick passes.

“I think the biggest thing that jumps out to you when you watch these guys on tape is how fast they are,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “Everyone knows about Aaron Donald up front, you look through the linebackers with Ogletree and Baron, those guys can all run.”

Football Outsiders ranks the Rams as the best overall defense in the league, third against short passes and fourth in the NFL against opposing tight ends. They also rank the Vikings’ offensive line second best in the league in pass protection, making for a good matchup of two top units.

“We’ve got the right kind of guys – tough, physical, smart, work together,” ZImmer said. “They don’t really care who gets the credit, matter of fact, they don’t even like me to call out their name in meetings. They get fined, even if it’s a good thing. That’s just the kind of guys they are.”

The post Vikings offensive line wil face its toughest test vs. Rams appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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