The Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos square off in both teams’ final game of the preseason. Minnesota is still looking for a win to create some momentum and buzz entering the season, while Denver has gone 1-1 in their two games. The Broncos also have home field advantage, making an even tougher challenge for the Vikings backups. As always, football’s a contact sport, and contact creates injuries.
Denver, like the San Francisco 49ers last week, have a massive injury report. Luckily, it doesn’t repeat the Niners because there aren’t nearly as many starters listed with injuries as San Francisco. However, there are three big things to note. Firstly, the Broncos’ guard depth has been obliterated by injury. There are three guards listed as at least questionable. It doesn’t matter how good those players are (Vikings fans may recognize Tom Compton, who played 14 games for us in 2018), that’s a lot of manpower in the trenches gone. Second, Broncos free agent linebacker Randy Gregory has been on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list for almost all of training camp until recently. From the Dallas Cowboys, Gregory was brought in to shore up the defensive line and add another piece for what they hope is a deep playoff run with Russell Wilson at the helm. According to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic, Gregory has begun participating in limited practice. Finally, and maybe most heartbreaking, Tim Patrick tore his ACL and he’s out for the season. After an interesting 2020 and 2021 season where he tallied around 1,400 yards over that time, Patrick seemed destined for a strong breakout season. With this ACL injury, and being a 28 year old, Patrick might not be playing efficient football for much longer. Health and the technologies that go with it have come a really long way even since just the 2010’s, but an injury of that severity might spell doom for his athletic prime. This injury doesn’t just hurt the player, due to Patrick being at least the Broncos’ WR3, it hurts the team. They’re losing a guy who proved he was a solid deep threat and able to attract attention from the defense. I hope he can come back stronger than ever next season.
Minnesota’s injury report continues to shrink as more players are (thankfully) recovering from their injuries. The only addition to the report is rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr, who rolled his ankle last week against the 49ers. It didn’t cause any damage, but the team still might rest him until opening day against the Green Bay Packers. This is some valuable developmental time Booth is missing, but it’s important to make sure his long term health isn’t getting impacted. A more hopeful development recently is that Irv Smith Jr. is in pads for some full-team snaps in practice, so it seems likely he’ll be back by week one. As mentioned in previous reports of mine, Smith is the Vikings’ TE1 and a core aspect of the offenses’ passing attack. I’m optimistic that the thumb injury doesn’t dampen his chances of having the breakout season that could be in store for him.