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Zimmer: Riley Reiff’s ankle “much better than expected”

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What does that mean? Nobody knows.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In his Monday press conference (which, have no fear, will be getting a more extensive breakdown later on), Minnesota Vikings’ head coach Mike Zimmer was asked about the status of offensive tackle Riley Reiff. In a pretty scary moment for the Vikings, Reiff suffered an injury to his left ankle, and was seen in a walking boot after the game was over.

When asked about the injury Zimmer was. . .well, he was Zimmer.

Q: What have you learned about the extent of Riley Reiff’s ankle injury?

A: It’s a lot better than what he thought it was going to be.

Q: Does that mean it’s not broken?

A: No, it’s not broken.

Q: Sprain?

A: I don’t know. You can call anything a sprain, so whatever you want to call it.

Q: Does Riley Reiff have a shot of playing Sunday?

A: Today is Monday. I’m not going to talk about injuries. We’re not going to go there. There is no sense in starting already. I’ll know more Wednesday when they practice.

Look, honestly, if you were expecting any actual clarity from Zimmer this far in advance, you probably haven’t been paying attention to the man’s press conferences over the last three-plus seasons of Vikings football. The coach is famously tight-lipped about these sorts of things, and despite what he said we probably won’t have any idea by Wednesday, either.

For the Vikings’ sake, hopefully Reiff’s injury will end up being not nearly as bad as it looked. On Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Panthers, the team was already down center Pat Elflein and right tackle Mike Remmers, meaning that Rashod Hill started at right tackle, and Nick Easton slid over from left guard to center, with Jeremiah Sirles replacing him at left guard.

When Reiff went to the sidelines, Hill moved from right tackle to left tackle, Sirles moved from left guard to right tackle, and rookie Danny Isidora came in to replace Sirles at the left guard spot. Only right guard Joe Berger stayed in his usual spot from start to finish.

With all those injuries along the offensive line, the Vikings gave us some flashbacks to last year’s group, as they allowed Case Keenum to be sacked six times and didn’t manage any real push in the running game in the second half. Elflein was a game-time decision, which means that he might be ready to go this week. Remmers has missed the last five games with a concussion followed by a back injury, but it sounds like he might be able to go next Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, too.

The big one, obviously, is Reiff. He’s been a revelation at left tackle after the Vikings ended the Matt Kalil era this past offseason, and the team really needs to have him out there. Hopefully it won’t be a long-term injury for him and we’ll see him back protecting Case Keenum’s blind side in short order.