Our theme this week across the SB Nation family of NFL blogs is which player can our specific team least afford to lose. For the Minnesota Vikings, in my humble opinion, the one player that they can least afford to lose is a guy that they might be without on Sunday when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals.
We’ve talked a lot about the impact that offensive tackle Riley Reiff has had on this offensive line, and on the offense as a whole, over the course of this season. He has given up a sack in each of the past two weeks (after going the first 11 games of the season without allowing one), but he’s still been doing an outstanding job. He’s most certainly been an upgrade over what we’ve seen over the past couple of seasons at left tackle. Honestly, I’m pretty sure that Matt Kalil and T.J. Clemmings gave up sacks during pregame warmups during their time in Minnesota. Reiff has played a significant role in the resurgence of the Vikings’ offense this season, both in protecting Case Keenum and in the run game.
From the sounds of it, the Vikings might be getting center Pat Elflein and right tackle Mike Remmers back this week against Cincinnati. However, Reiff’s status is more up in the air, and that’s going to be cause for concern until he comes back. With all due respect to Rashod Hill, who has done a nice job so far at right tackle in Remmers’ absence and moved over to left tackle when Reiff got injured, he’s not on the same level as Reiff is at the left tackle spot. That could, potentially, limit what the Vikings do offensively while Reiff is out.
Thankfully, we found out a few days ago that Reiff’s injury is not as bad as the team officially feared, which can be taken as a positive. In a perfect world, Reiff would have a few weeks to heal up, and if the Vikings can lock down the NFC North sooner rather than later he might get that opportunity. If the Vikings want to go anywhere in the postseason, they absolutely need Riley Reiff to be manning the left tackle spot in this offense.
What do you think, folks? Who do you think is the one member of the Vikings that the team absolutely can’t afford to lose?