Left tackle continues to be a problem for Vikings

T.J. Clemmings is making a rough adjustment to left tackle, and Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford paid the price Sunday.

Starting his third game in place of injured Matt Kalil, Clemmings, a converted right tackle, twice was turnstiled by Houston linebacker Whitney Mercilus and watched Bradford get sacked. He also was beaten badly by Jadeveon Clowney, who stuffed a run.

Drawing more scrutiny, Clemmings was flagged 15 yards for a facemask that short-circuited a Vikings drive, marring an otherwise dominant Minnesota performance in a 31-13 victory.

Coach Mike Zimmer was asked if he could afford to be patient with Clemmings given the stakes in protecting Bradford, who has had two knees surgically repaired, and Minnesota's 5-0 start.

"Well, I don't know, we'll keep looking at him," Zimmer said. "I haven't seen the tape, and I know he got beat a couple times today. This team is about finding a way. We're going to find a way. (If) guys need help, we're going to give them help."


The Vikings are running out of options after back-up guard Zac Kerin was thrust into the game on their first drive when right guard Brandon Fusco was sidelined with a concussion.

Besides Kalil, right tackle Andre Smith (triceps) might be headed for injured reserve. Jeremiah Sirles is starting in his place. Longtime center John Sullivan was cut when Joe Berger beat him out in the preseason. Phil Loadholt retired before training camp.

Veteran left guard Alex Boone is the only remaining starter from training camp and he already has been banged up by hip and knee injuries.

General manager Rick Spielman intimated to the Pioneer Press last week he was unwilling to mortgage any more of the Vikings' future after trading a first-round pick to Philadelphia to acquire Bradford.

But he might be working the telephones during the upcoming bye week to sure up Bradford's blind side and add more depth to Minnesota's crumbling offensive line.


Sure, Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright wanted to play, but whose place would he have taken?

Minnesota's top four receivers — Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson — all had their share of good moments in the first four games.


Diggs, though, sat out Sunday's 31-13 win at U.S. Bank Stadium with a groin injury. Thielen moved into the starting lineup, and Wright saw significant action for the first time this season, catching four passes for 32 yards.

"The only reason I was frustrated was I just know that I could help this team,'' said Wright, a five-year veteran. "But I also have been in the league long enough to understand it's a long season. But who would I replace? All the receivers have been making plays. … Sometimes it takes an injury to get a chance.''

In the first four games, Wright was inactive for three and played one snap in the other. But he looked Sunday like the receiver who last season caught 34 passes for 442 yards.

"I just tell him keep fighting and his opportunity will come,'' said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. "(Saturday night), I was in front of the team and I said, 'You know, guys get opportunities and Jarius you're going to get your opportunity (Sunday).' "

With that in mind, Wright didn't deny he actually was nervous.

"Getting my feet wet, first game for me this year to actually play and a chance to get some balls, I kind of had some butterflies,'' Wright said. "It's the first game for me this year to get my opportunity to play. … I felt a little extra pressure to go out there and make plays.''

For Wright, it was the first time he caught balls in a game from quarterback Sam Bradford, acquired Sept. 3 from Philadelphia. Thielen led the Vikings with seven catches for 127 yards, but right behind were Wright and Patterson, who had four grabs for 39 yards.

Patterson caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Bradford early in the fourth quarter. It was his first touchdown from scrimmage since he caught a 4-yard scoring pass Oct. 19, 2014, at Buffalo.



Houston Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork is known for speaking him mind. When the Texans were routed 27-0 by the New England Patriots in the third game of the season, Wilfork said his team was "skunked."

After the Vikings whipped the Texans 31-13 on Sunday, Wilfork also spoke candidly.

On whether he is concerned after the loss: "It's frustrating, you know. We can do a lot of things to improve. We've got to figure it out. We've got to figure out a way to get better."

On Texans head coach Bill O'Brien taking the blame for the loss: "We're all in it together. It's on all of us. It's not just one person. It's not just one unit. It's on the whole organization. We're not into pointing fingers. We've all got to get better."

On the Vikings: "They played well. They did what they've been doing all year: Win. They made plays. They did what they wanted to do. That's two times facing an elite team and we didn't look good. It's gut-check time. We're way better than that. We just haven't shown it. Until we show it, that's what we are."

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