The biggest reason for teams to strive for a bye in the NFL playoffs is to give some of their players that are battling nagging injuries an opportunity to get healthy and get themselves back up to full speed before the Divisional Round. For the Minnesota Vikings, it appears that’s exactly what’s happened.
In their first practice leading up to their game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings listed seven players on their injury report. They were as follows:
- C Pat Elflein (shoulder)
- FB C.J. Ham (neck)
- S Anthony Harris (knee)
- CB Terence Newman (foot)
- CB Xavier Rhodes (foot)
- TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle)
- DT Shamar Stephen (ankle)
Of those seven players, only Newman and Stephen were limited at today’s practice session. The other five players listed were all full participants.
Rudolph, in particular, said that the bye did wonders for his ankle injury.
“I don’t think you can say anyone is 100 percent in the middle of January, but I definitely feel a lot better after that time off,” Rudolph said. “We’ve run around a little bit, and it feels a lot better than I did the last three weeks when I was out there trying to get through.”
Rudolph, if you’ll recall, was wearing a walking boot following Minnesota’s loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 14 and was initially listed as doubtful for the game the next week against Cincinnati at U.S. Bank Stadium. However, he went from “doubtful” to “questionable” the day before the game, and then found his way onto the active roster for the contest, even catching a touchdown pass in the blowout victory. He played the last two games of the season as well, and is now about as healthy as possible.
We’ll have the final injury reports for this one on Friday afternoon, as is customary. But, for now, the Vikings look to be just about as healthy as a team can be in the middle of January in the National Football League.