Vikings vs. Colts Week 15 Inactives
The Minnesota Vikings (10-3) on Saturday announced the following players will be inactive against the Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1) Week 15:
Cornerback Kalon Barnes
Center Garrett Bradbury
Defensive lineman Ross Blacklock
Outside linebacker Pat Jones II
Cornerback Parry Nickerson
Bradbury is inactive for a second consecutive week because of a back injury.
Jones (illness) was questionable on Thursday.
Barnes just joined the team this past week.
Blacklock last played in Week 12.
Nickerson was elevated from the practice squad Friday.
Why the Colts can cover
Indianapolis has a stout pass defense, limiting the explosive plays downfield. The Colts head into this game ranked third in pass defense (188.6). This unit has allowed fewer than 175 passing yards in seven of their last 10 outings. Linebacker Zaire Franklin is the engine of this group. Franklin has been an instinctive force that flies sideline-to-sideline.
The Syracuse product has 131 total tackles, but is fourth in the NFL in solo stops (79). He finished with double-digit tackles in four straight games. Fellow linebacker Bobby Okereke has plenty of speed and quickly diagnoses the play. Okereke can defend tight ends and running backs with no problem in open space. The 2019 third-round pick is second on the team in total tackles (108) and tied for 11th in solo stops (70). See which team to pick here.
Tough challenge for Justin Jefferson
Nobody stops Justin Jefferson, but if there’s a team capable of slowing him down it is the Colts with cornerbacks Isaiah Rodgers and Stephen Gilmore. In Pro Football Focus’ cornerback rankings, Rodgers is No. 2 and Gilmore is No. 7. That’s an elite 1-2 punch at cornerback, similar to the dynamic duos of the New York Jets (Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed) and Philadelphia Eagles (Darius Slay and James Bradberry).
Rodgers and Gilmore spend the majority of their snaps out wide, so this is a game where fans will likely see a lot of Jefferson running routes out of the slot.
A more aggressive defensive game plan
Minnesota rarely blitzes, nor do they bring more than four rushers very often. But after getting obliterated by good and mediocre offenses over the past five weeks, the pressure has reached a point where defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has to dial up some heat.
There’s no way Matt Ryan carves up the Vikings when throwing to Michael Pittman Jr. Alec Pierce and Parris Campbell, right? That’s probably the same line of thinking everyone had when the Vikings were about to face Mac Jones throwing to Jakobi Meyers, Davante Parker and Nelson Agohlor and that wound up being a career day for Jones with 382 passing yards.
The Vikings failed to bring extra rushers against Jones until late in the fourth quarter, and when they did that Jones stopped shredded them. Expect pressure early and often against Ryan and the Colts.
Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley wouldn’t give any hints about the plan for Jefferson, but this much is clear: cornerback Stephon Gilmore needs to play a key role. The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts this season, his healthiest since winning the award with New England.
He’s fully aware of the challenge of covering Jefferson.
“He’s fast, he’s shifty, he’s great at the catch point,” Gilmore said. “He’s a great receiver. Kirk Cousins is playing good ball, too, so they’ve got a great offense. It’ll be a big matchup for us.”