MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings will be without key pieces on offense and defense in arguably their biggest game of the season Sunday at Tampa Bay.
The Vikings can get above .500 for the first time all season with a win, and inch closer to a spot in the NFC Playoffs. But they’ll be without their top tackler on defense for the second straight week. Linebacker Eric Kendricks was among the inactives announced 90 minutes before kickoff. Kendricks leads the defense with 107 tackles, but didn’t practice all week due to a calf injury. He had been dealing with it leading up to the Vikings facing the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday, then was ruled out just before kickoff.
Earlier this week, Kendricks was named the Vikings’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Also out for Sunday’s game is tight end Kyle Rudolph, who didn’t practice all week with a toe injury. Rudolph will have a streak of 98 consecutive starts come to an end. Irv Smith Jr. returns after missing three of the last four games with groin and back injuries.
K.J. Osborn is inactive for the second time in three weeks, which means punt and kick return duties will likely be up to Chad Beebe and Ameer Abdullah. No. 2 running back Alexander Mattison is also inactive after missing last week’s game following an appendectomy.
The Vikings (6-6) are looking for their sixth win in seven games after entering the Week 8 bye at 1-5.