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Injury Impact: NFC Championship Game Report

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Heading into the NFC Championship Game, the Philadelphia Eagles injury report, if you bypass Injured Reserve, barely blips on the radar. Conversely, the Minnesota Vikings are dealing with injuries to two key starts and two depth pieces. Let’s take a look at how those injuries could impact the game.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Questionable

LB Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring)

Other notables that are not listed include LB and special teams ace Kamu Grugier-Hill, who was a full participant in practice on Friday after being limited Thursday. CB Sidney Jones practiced in full on Friday, but it is not known if he will dress on Sunday.

Ellerbe’s status is significant as he will allow the Eagles to match the Vikings base personnel on running downs and free up SAF Malcolm Jenkins to play his more traditional role. Considering he was dealing with the same hamstring issue last week and played 37 snaps in the Divisional Round against the Atlanta Falcons, it’s fair to think he plays despite sitting out Wednesday and being limited Thursday and Friday. (UPDATE: Ellerbe is OUT).

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Out

DT Shamar Stephen (knee/ankle)

Questionable

WR Adam Thielen (lower back)

CB Mackensie Alexander (rib)

SAF Andrew Sendejo (concussion)

With DT Stephen out, Iowa rookie DT Jaleel Johnson will see an uptick in snaps. Despite not playing much this year, Johnson is a powerful run defender with the functional strength, mental processing and motor to make plays in the run game.

CB Alexander is the 4th man in the rotation and despite several mentions as a piece the Eagles could exploit, has held up fairly well this year. He’s only allowed 25 catches, 296 yards and has hauled in one interception in 231 coverage snaps. Still, Terrence Newman is the steadier, more disciplined man in the slot.

SAF Sendejo made a leaping interception in the Divisional Round against the New Orleans Saints and is another solid piece in the Vikings secondary. After taking a mean elbow from Saints WR Michael Thomas, Sendejo will have to clear concussion protocol to dress on Sunday. He was a full participant in Friday’s practice.

His backup, SAF Anthony Harris, is dealing with a knee injury but practiced in full throughout the week. In Week 11 against the Los Angeles Rams, Harris filled in for the injured Sendejo and racked up 7 combined tackles as part of a defensive effort that surrendered a mere 7 points and 254 total yards.

Leading the Vikings in targets (91) and yards (1,276) and ranking 2nd in the league in 3rd down targets (55), catches (33), yards (428), and first downs (25), WR Thielen’s status has to be the biggest storyline of the bunch. Suffering a back injury in the game against the Saints, Thielen was able to play through the pain and make a big reception. Still, lower back injuries are nothing to sneeze at and could limit his effectiveness as the Vikings primary slot option.

From the slot, Thielen leads the league in target rate (25%) and ranks 2nd for yards per route run (2.11). He also is tied for 4th in the league for red zone targets (24), with 8 of his 12 catches inside the 20 coming in the way of first down conversions.

If he can’t go or receives limited snaps, wide receivers Jarius Wright (18-198-2), Laquon Treadwell (20-200-0), and Michael Floyd (10-78-0) will fight for extra playing time.

Michael is an NFL Draft enthusiast, aspiring scout, and grandson of longtime East Stroudsburg (Pa.) HS football coach John P. Kist. He hosts Locked On Eagles and writes for Inside the Pylon & Breaking Football.

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