FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The Vikings are 9-2 and quarterback Kirk Cousins has been playing well. But pass protection has been a weakness, and it’s one the Jets hope to exploit in Minneapolis on Sunday.
Coach Robert Saleh said he doesn’t want Cousins to just feel the Jets’ pass rush.
He also wants Cousins to “smell” the Jets coming at him.
“I don’t know about taking advantage [of the Vikings’ offensive line] as much as just we’ve got confidence in our group to at least put your best foot forward,” Saleh said Friday. “Play relentless. Play violent. If we get to him, great. If not, just at the end of the day, he’s got to feel it. He’s got to smell you.”
The Jets will get a boost as Sheldon Rankins is expected to play after missing the last two games with an elbow injury.
“Knock on wood,” Saleh said. “He’s been having such a nice year. Effective pass rusher. He’s been disruptive in the run game. Veteran leadership. Knows how to play the game. So getting him back is always good.”
Rankins chuckled when told about Saleh’s “smell” verbiage.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say that, but it’s not out of character,” Rankins said. “But that’s the key.
“Kirk Cousins, he’s not a guy who drops 12 yards deep and retreats off the back and does any of that. He goes eight or nine and he steps up and climbs in the pocket.
“So that pressure, whether interior or from the edge, is going to be big. We’ve got to, like he said, be around him. He’s got to be able to feel us, smell us, all that stuff. We’ve just got to be around him. We’ve got to annoy the [expletive] out of him.”
Cousins enters the game with 17 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He has thrown for 2,760 yards and has completed 65% of his passes with a quarterback rating of 88.6. He has been sacked 28 times, which is tied for the seventh-highest total in the NFL.
Cousins threw for three touchdowns on Thanksgiving Day in a 34-26 win over the Patriots. Four days earlier, the Vikings were walloped by the Cowboys, 40-3, with Cousins getting sacked seven times.
“Decisive, accurate, great presence in the pocket,” Saleh said. “Gets the ball where it needs to be pretty quick. They do a really good job. He’s played in this league a long time. He’s got a lot of years under his belt. We’ve played him before. He’s very good.”
Notes & quotes: RB Michael Carter (ankle) is listed as doubtful for Sunday. “He’s on the field,” Saleh said. “He’s getting himself prepared. So we’ll see over the next couple of days.” . . . T Cedric Ogbuehi (groin/illness) also is doubtful. George Fant could be activated to replace him . . . S Ashtyn Davis (hamstring) is out . . . Joe Flacco will back up Mike White at quarterback.