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Rookies getting quality playing time

On Vikings WR Adam Thielen: Nevin Lawson covered him most of the first meeting and held him to four catches for 22 yards to end Thielen’s streak of eight games with at least 100 receiving yards. Thielen’s had one game of over 100 yards in the last five.

On Darius Slay’s motivation: You have to love this answer when asked why he plays hard with no chance of making the playoffs: “I’ve got a name to represent. My name is on the back of my jersey. I’ve got guys who depend on me to go out there and go hard. That’s what I play for every game. Whatever comes with it comes with it. My first thing is going hard for got guys who depend on me to go out here and go hard. That what I play for every game.”

On Vikings’ defensive sag: They’re obviously not the team they were in 2017, when they went 13-3 and won the NFC North by four games over the second-place Lions (9-7). A lot is pinned on Cousins not playing up to what most expected, but the defense hasn’t been as strong. With two games left, the Vikings already have given up 56 points more than a year ago (308-252). They have a league-high 46, but 19 were in two games.

On Joe Dahl, 305-pound fullback: He’s been a backup guard most of his three seasons as a Lion, but he’s gotten snaps of late at fullback – a position he never played at any level before this season.

“I’ve never been in the backfield at all,” Dahl said. “It’s definitely a lot different, that’s for sure. It’s pretty fun getting a head start (blocking).”

With gameday roster spots at a premium, versatility adds value – and extends careers. Converted linebacker Nick Bellore has been the primary fullback this year, when healthy.

Sticking with my pick: The Lions have scored three offensive touchdowns in the last two games. Zach Zenner scored on two one-yard runs. Stafford went deep for the other – a four-yard pass to Andy Jones. The Lions will give the Vikes a battle, but they lack firepower.

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