The Minnesota Vikings are one kick away from being 2-0, but have been aggressive in upgrading their roster after playing to a tie at Green Bay last week.
The Vikings host a winless Buffalo Bills (0-2) team searching for answers throughout the lineup after playing from behind for all but 12 minutes of the first two games.
The Vikings (1-0-1) signed veteran kicker Dan Bailey on Monday to replace fifth-round draft pick Daniel Carlson, who missed field goals from 48, 49 and 35 yards in the 29-29 tie with the Packers. Minnesota also added wide receiver Aldrick Robinson and defensive tackle Tom Johnson.
“We feel like we needed to make some moves after that game,” said coach Mike Zimmer, who added that he sent a text message to general manager Rick Spielman to say “thank you for getting more players in here.”
Minnesota returned almost every key player from last year’s 13-3 NFC North champion.
The Vikings’ big offseason acquisition, quarterback Kirk Cousins, is off to a good start, completing 65 percent of his passes for an average of 334.5 yards with six touchdowns and one interception in two games.
Cousins threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers, the first time in his career he’s hit both of those benchmarks in the same game. After struggling late in the season-opening win over the 49ers, Cousins rallied the Vikings back from two touchdowns down in the fourth quarter at Green Bay.
“We want to be an offense that can strike at any time but that will also be a threat from the first quarter all the way through the last,” Cousins said.
Buffalo’s pass defense, a strength of last year’s team that went 9-7 and ended a 17-season playoff drought, provided little resistance against the Ravens’ Joe Flacco and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers in the first two weeks, giving up 492 yards and six touchdowns without an interception.
Most of the damage has been done in the first half, where the Bills have been outscored 54-6 over the first two quarters of their two losses.
Coach Sean McDermott took over the defensive play-calling from coordinator Leslie Frazier at halftime of last week’s 31-17 loss to the Chargers and the Bills gave up only a field goal the rest of the way.
“Leslie and I are going to continue to work on that together,” McDermott said. “Sometimes, you get into a flow and then sometimes you don’t get into a flow and you have to hand it over.”
The Bills also had to deal with the surprise halftime retirement of cornerback Vontae Davis while already being weakened in the secondary by injuries to Phillip Gaines (elbow) and rookie Taron Johnson (shoulder). Both have been limited participants in practice this week.
Offensively, the Bills are breaking in rookie quarterback Josh Allen. The No. 7 overall pick out of Wyoming has completed 50 percent of his passes for 319 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions since replacing Nathan Peterman in the third quarter of Buffalo’s 47-3 loss to Baltimore in the season opener.
Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy has been limited to 61 yards over the first two games and is questionable to play Sunday due to cracked rib cartilage.
“I’ll probably make that decision about Saturday, Friday, see if I can actually go out there and run full tilt, full speed with no pain,” McCoy said.
The Bills’ top receiver Kelvin Benjamin has also been limited in practice by a hip injury.
For the Vikings, starting running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring), right tackle Rashod Hill (foot) and defensive end Everson Griffen (knee) did not practice Wednesday.
—Field Level Media