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Rhodes, Hillman rushing to get ready for Sunday

MINNEAPOLIS--Provided he can return from a knee injury to make his season debut, Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes already has a matchup in mind for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers. He wants to cover receiver Kelvin Benjamin, his forme...

Sep 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh (3) against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Packers 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh (3) against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Packers 17-14. (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports)

MINNEAPOLIS-Provided he can return from a knee injury to make his season debut, Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes already has a matchup in mind for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers. He wants to cover receiver Kelvin Benjamin, his former teammate at Florida State.

"If the coaches allow it," Rhodes said.

On Thursday, Rhodes practiced for the second straight day, his first two practices since he suffered a knee injury while stretching hours before the Vikings' season opener against Tennessee.

"I've made great progress," Rhodes said. "But we're going to go day by day."

The Vikings would welcome back Rhodes as they prep for a tough matchup against Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Carolina's passing attack.

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Coach Mike Zimmer said Rhodes looked "pretty good" in his return to practice. "I think he might be able to play," he said.

At 6 feet 1, 218 pounds, Rhodes is the Vikings' biggest cornerback, something that could benefit the team as they prep for Benjamin, a massive 6-foot-5, 245-pound receiver who has caught passes for 199 yards in two games.

Rhodes matched up against Benjamin during the receiver's rookie year in 2014. Benjamin was targeted 12 times that game but only able to haul in five of those passes for 56 yards.

"It was a good challenge," Rhodes said.

Hillman learning

The Vikings signed running back Ronnie Hillman in the wake of Adrian Peterson's knee injury, but it's unclear whether he'll play Sunday.

"He's in on a crash course," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "We'll see."

Turner was noncommittal when asked whether Hillman was brought in to play in a regular rotation or merely to back up Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata. Hillman, 25, played all 16 games for the Denver Broncos last season, running for 863 yards and seven touchdowns on 207 carries.

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In 48 career games, he has 1,845 yards and 12 touchdowns on 453 carries.

"He's been a successful player in the league, so we'll see how quickly he absorbs what we're doing," Turner said. "Obviously, we have to get him ready to play."

Floyd out indefinitely

Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd had surgery Thursday on his right knee, and Zimmer doesn't seem to be missing him.

"He's kind of out of sight, out of mind,'' Zimmer said.

Zimmer has become frustrated with all the injuries Floyd has had in recent years. Zimmer said Thursday he had a clean-up procedure of cartilage in a knee that has been bothering him all season.

Zimmer didn't offer a timetable of how long Floyd will be out, only that he won't play Sunday at Carolina. The injury, though, does not appear serious enough for Floyd to be placed on injured reserve.

"We feel good about guys we've got," Zimmer said. "He's played (25) plays this year. He hasn't played.''

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The fourth-year man has missed six games since the start of 2014, and also has had several games in which he started before being knocked out. He had a procedure last October to clean up cartilage in his left knee.

All of Floyd's playing time this season came in the opener at Tennessee two weeks ago, when he was in the starting lineup. He sat out last weekend's game against Green Bay, with Shamar Stephen starting in his place.

The Vikings have a good bit of depth at three-technique defensive tackle. They also have Tom Johnson, who started games in each of the past two seasons when Floyd was out.

Walsh's backdrop

When Blair Walsh lines up for field goals at the Vikings' U.S. Bank Stadium, the scoreboard behind the goalposts goes dark with only a team logo on it.

That decision stemmed from a chat between Walsh and general manager Rick Spielman.

"Some stadiums have video going on, trying to distract opposing team's kickers," said special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. "I don't think we're doing that. I don't know what we're doing, to be honest with you. Blair said he just wanted a plain backdrop. I know Rick Spielman had asked him that when we practiced over there before we played San Diego, and that's what Blair came up with. Whatever helps him kick the ball through the uprights is all that matters."

Priefer lauded Walsh's perfect game against the Green Bay Packers last Sunday (1 for 1 on field goals, 2 for 2 on extra points) after Walsh missed two field goals and an extra point in the season opener.

"Blair is a guy that's bounced back his whole career," Priefer said. "He can have a bad kick and come back and make the next several, like he did against Tennessee. He kicked the ball well. He kicked off and kicked field goals and PATs very well Sunday night."

Aug 1, 2016; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) walks to the afternoon session of training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 1, 2016; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) walks to the afternoon session of training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

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