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Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings: Five Vikings to watch

The Rams and Vikings are missing key players entering the best Thursday Night game to date.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Minnesota Vikings on the best Thursday Night matchup to date in the young 2018 NFL season, both teams are expected to be slightly shorthanded. The Vikings will be without star EDGE Everson Griffen (get well soon) while the Rams will not have CB Aqib Talib for sure. Here are some of the Vikings expected to have a big impact in the matchup.

S Harrison Smith

The best safety in the NFL, Smith continues his great career with a good start to the season. The first round pick from Notre Dame continues to expand his game, even showing some pass rushing ability from his free safety spot with two sacks in the first three games of the season. In addition to the sacks, Smith has 20 total tackles, a forced fumble, and interception.

RB Dalvin Cook

Coming back after a strong rookie season was cut short, RB Dalvin Cook looks to pick up after missing Week 3 with a hamstring injury. Cook has started the season a little slow in his first two games with only 78 rushing yards on 26 carries. Cook seems to have an expanded role in the passing game with 12 targets in two games so look for Cook to try and take advantage of the perceived weakness of the Rams linebacker coverage.

WR Adam Thielen

Although receiver mate Stefon Diggs gets more of the flash, it is Adam Thielen who is dominating the receiving for the Vikings. Thielen leads the Vikings targets (44), receptions (32), and yards (338) while also contributing a touchdown. With both starting cornerbacks potentially out for the matchup, look for Kirk Cousins to look for Thielen early and often.

QB Kirk Cousins

Speaking of Cousins, the quarterback had a very forgettable game against the Buffalo Bills last week.

Cousins threw for 55 times for only 296 years while also throwing a touchdown and interception. For the season, Cousins has been efficient but more of a “dink and dunk” type of quarterback as he’s completed 68.3% of his passes for seven TDs. Cousins has also thrown two interceptions while fumbling the ball three times. Look for Cousins to try and rebound after a rough outing against the injury riddled secondary.

EDGE Danielle Hunter

With Everson Griffen working through personal matters, it has been EDGE Danielle Hunter who has played very well on the opposite side, even with his absence. Through three games, Hunter has earned a sack in each contest. Hunter has totaled 15 tackles and looks to fill Griffen’s void as the premeire pass rusher for the squad. Look for Hunter to get his chance against Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein.