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Vikings deal with key defensive injuries; Cassel talks Patriots, Patterson

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After a suffocating defensive performance against a Rams team devoid of quarterback depth, the last thing the Vikings want to deal with in preparation for this Sunday's game against the New England Patriots (and their quarterback gold standard) is injuries.

But that's exactly what Minnesota is now facing.

Two defensive starters – cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Shariff Floyd – sat out of Wednesday's practice, nursing injuries suffered during the 34-6 blowout in St. Louis.

Rhodes spoke with reporters about his tweaked groin.

Floyd was not in the locker room during media time Wednesday, the Star Tribune reports.

Rookie linebacker Brandon Watts, battling a knee injury, also missed practice; he was inactive for the Vikings' season opener.

Here's the official injury report released Wednesday.

Limited in practice were tackle Mike Harris (shoulder), guard Charlie Johnson (ankle), fullback Zach Line (ankle) and linebacker Michael Mauti (foot). Cornerback Jabari Price, who had a hamstring injury, participated fully.

Cassel on Patterson, Patriots

Does Matt Cassel have a sweet tooth? If he does, this might be tempting.

Although maybe the fact that Patterson can take a handoff, then bowl and juke his way through 67 yards of defense to score a touchdown is temptation enough for Cassel to get him the ball.

"He’s great," Cassel said of the second-year wide receiver Wednesday. "You know what, he’s a fun kid. He’s still young, he’s silly but at the same time he takes his work seriously. He wants to be successful. I think he will be the first one to tell you and I’ve said this before also, he’s still growing a lot as a player, as a receiver."

Cassel also said Patterson's route running ability was improved the most compared to last year.

The 32-year-old quarterback will be trying to topple his former team while throwing to Patterson.

Cassel was drafted by the Patriots in 2005 and played there for three years – including an 11-5 season when Tom Brady went down with an injury. He was traded to the Chiefs and spent four years there before signing with the Vikings as a free agent in 2013.

It'll be the first time Cassel gets to go against his former squad.

"I’m excited," he said of the opportunity. "It will be a great challenge for us to see where we are at as a team. Like any other game, though, it’s just the next game on the schedule for us."

That didn't stop him from heaping praise on head coach Bill Belichek and the front office.

"I have great, fond memories," he said. "I’m forever grateful for them giving me the start. Coach Belichick, Scott Pioli and those guys of drafting me. Really for somebody who hadn’t started a game in college and giving me an opportunity to grow, to learn. I feel very fortunate and blessed that I had that opportunity to do that."

Read a transcript of Matt Cassel's press conference here.

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