Vikings will be without cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. on Sunday. Who will step up?

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In the biggest game so far this season, the Vikings will be without starting cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. He was ruled out with a knee injury on Friday with the Vikings set to host the Detroit Lions on Christmas Eve.

Asked about the decision, head coach Kevin O’Connell noted that it wasn’t for a lack of effort on Murphy’s part.

“Just couldn’t get Byron turned over enough to get him to be available,” O’Connell said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get him some work and get him back out there with us next week.”

This started to feel like a real possibility this week with Murphy unable to participate in practice. His knee injury occurred in last Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and while Murphy managed to make it through the whole game, it became an issue afterward.

“That  goes to show how tough he is,” O’Connell said. “He battled through it.”

The fact that Murphy can’t play this weekend is a huge loss for the Vikings as they attempt to defend Lions star receiver Amon Ra St. Brown. Though the Vikings will likely lean heavily on safety Josh Metellus bumping down and playing in the slot, they also will have to rely on cornerback Akayleb Evans and rookie cornerback Mekhi Blackmon to step up and fill the void.

Luckily for the Vikings, defensive coordinator Brian Flores, defensive backs coach Daronte Jones and assistant defensive backs coach Michael Hutchings have consistently been building the confidence of some of the younger players on the roster.

“Those guys have been getting those guys ready throughout this season for moments like this where they’ve got to step in against a really impressive skill group,” O’Connell said. “We’re going to have to defend and try to get some pressure and ultimately see if we can put together a good day on defense, which is my expectation with that group.”


It seems as if the Vikings will have multiple game-time decisions on Sunday. They are listing right tackle Brian O’Neill (ankle), running back Alexander Mattison (ankle), defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (back), defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard (ankle), linebacker Jordan Hicks (shin) and linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (shoulder) as questionable.

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