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Rams at Vikings could be a sack-fest

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Hide the quarterbacks. Or at least keep in an extra blocker.

Both the Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams, who meet Sunday, are top-10 pass rushing teams. The Rams are second in sacks per pass play, while the Vikings are ninth.

The Vikings have nine players sharing 18 sacks. The Rams have 13 players sharing 26 sacks.

Since the start of last season, the Vikings’ Everson Griffen and Tom Johnson rank fifth among end-tackle tandems in combined sacks (25). Griffen has 16 1/2 while Johnson has 8 1/2.

First on that list with 34 1/2 is Houston’s J.J. Watt and Jared Crick. St. Louis’ Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald (29) are tied for second.

“I think Tom benefits a lot from Everson’s speed,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “(Griffen forces) the (tackle) to get up the field a little bit more, so it creates a little bit more space between the tackle and the guard, especially if the protection is going the other way. I think they both have a good chemistry between them.”

–How odd is it that the Vikings, a run-oriented team, have activated all six receivers on game day the last two Sundays?

“I’ve not been on a team that’s activated all six on game day,” said George Stewart, who has been an NFL receivers coach since 1996. “But each of those guys in that room helps us win games.

“And they’re selfless, very unselfish and they know that it’s a team game.”

Sunday in Chicago, rookie Stefon Diggs was once again the star with six catches for 95 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown. But a hamstring injury sent him to the bench with the game on the line in the closing seconds.

So Charles Johnson, the man who lost his starting job to Diggs last month, raced onto the field and made a leaping grab of a 35-yard pass to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired. It was Johnson’s sixth snap of the game.

“Those guys, I think they bring the swagger to the team,” quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. “You look back to OTAs, those guys were competing against our secondary. They were battling every day.

“That’s what you want to see. Guys who have the confidence in themselves that they’re going to get the job done. Stefon is getting the job done, but he has a great group of leaders in that room showing him how to get the job done.”

–Wide receiver Stefon Diggs missed practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury sustained in the closing seconds of Sunday’s game at Chicago. Despite a Week 5 bye, Diggs has a league-leading 10 catches over 20 yards since Week 4.

–Linebacker Anthony Barr missed practice Wednesday because of a lower back injury. He’s one of the most versatile weapons in coach Mike Zimmer’s unpredictable set of blitz packages. And he’s improving as a cover guy when he drops instead of rushes.

–Linebackrer Eric Kendricks missed practice because of a rib injury. The rookie second-rounder has excelled in each of the three games since becoming a three-down player when the team traded starter Gerald Hodges to the 49ers. Kendricks is second on the team in tackles (50) and sacks (four).

–Center Joe Berger missed practice because of a chest injury. The Vikings needs Berger to stay healthy for the stretch run after revealing last week that regular starter John Sullivan (back) had to have a second back surgery after suffering a setback in the weight room. Sullivan had been on schedule for a Week 9 return from injured reserve.

–Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee, ankle), who had a sack and a tackle for no gain on fourth-and-one from the Vikings’ seven-yard line three weeks ago, finally was spotted again on the practice field Wednesday. He didn’t practice and hasn’t played the last two weeks, but he was running off to the side with trainers during the open part of practice. Floyd, who had arthroscopic knee surgery, isn’t expected to play this week.


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