INGLEWOOD, Calif .– The Vikings’ final roadtrip to face the Chargers ended in a victory on the shoulders of a dominant (and healthy) defense that forced seven takeaways on their way to a playoff berth in December 2019.
Less than two years later, linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Everson Griffen are the only defensive starters who will face the Vikings again on Sunday in Los Angeles. The Vikings will be without five defensive starters, the fifth being linebacker Anthony Barr, who was unable to train this week due to a lingering knee injury.
Security Harrison Smith (COVID-19), nose tackle Michael Pierce (elbow), cornerback Patrick Peterson (hamstrings) and defensive end Danielle Hunter (pec) will also not be playing. Pierce was placed in the casualty reserve on Saturday, joining Peterson and Hunter.
Linebackers Nick Vigil and Blake Lynch, safety Camryn Bynum, nose tackle Armon Watts, cornerback Cameron Dantzler and defensive end DJ Wonnum will retain larger roles against a powerful Chargers offense.
The depth of the defensive end is particularly thin. Kenny Willekes tested positive for COVID-19 this week, making him the sixth lone player since November 4.
The good news is that the Vikings had no surprise scratches on Sunday morning, indicating that any close contact with Willekes among the players has tested negative and is available.
The inactive of the Vikings: Barr (knee), QB Kellen Mond and WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette
Inactive chargers: CB Michael Davis (hamstrings), RB Justin Jackson (quad), CB Ryan Smith (knee),
Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (knee) and edge rusher Joey Bosa (ankle) are active after being listed as questionable to play.
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