Vikings getting key injured players back for ‘very big’ game vs. Detroit
The Vikings faced New Orleans last Sunday without six starters, including two Pro Bowl selections, their top running back and best offensive lineman. But the wounded players are getting better.
Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring) and left guard Tom Compton (knee) were ruled of Sunday’s game against Detroit at U.S. Bank Stadium, but four others are expected back after being being listed as questionable on Friday’s final injury report.
Questionable after sitting out the 30-20 loss to the Saints are two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes (foot), running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring), left tackle Riley Reiff (foot) and safety Andrew Sendejo (groin). All appear to be in good position to play.
Cook, who has missed four straight games and five of the past six, is in line to play on a limited basis in his first game since Sept. 27 at the Los Angeles Rams. He was limited in practice Friday for the third straight day.
“It’s a big division game,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “It’s good to get those guys back, and the ones that don’t get back, hopefully with the (bye week) next week we can get fully healthy for the last stretch run.”
It’s possible one key starter who played last week might be sidelined. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who suffered a rib injury against the Saints but finished the game, did not practice all week and is listed as questionable.
Diggs said Thursday he expects to play. If he doesn’t or is limited, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell said he’s “absolutely ready” for a bigger role.
Also listed as out is reserve running back Roc Thomas, who suffered a hamstring injury against the Saints.
Barr and Compton will miss a second straight game. Barr will be replaced by Eric Wilson, and Compton again by Danny Isidora.
Rhodes is expected to return after missing one game; Reiff and Sendejo missed three. Rhodes and Reiff were limited in practice all week, Sendejo Wednesday and Thursday.
Reiff is Minnesota’s top offensive lineman. When he was out, Rashod Hill moved from right to left tackle and rookie Brian O’Neill was inserted at right tackle. O’Neill could remain at that spot, sending Hill to the bench.
“We’ll just have to see if Reiff returns,” head coach Mike Zimmer said.
Although the bye week starting Monday means injured players could get a larger chunk of time to heal, Zimmer is focused on the Lions. “If guys can play, they play,” he said. “That is just how we do it around here.”
Zimmer called it a “very, very big, important divisional game” and he’s right. Minnesota (4-3-1) is in second place in the tight NFC North behind Chicago (4-3). Green Bay (3-3-1) and Detroit (3-4) aren’t far back.
The Vikings, whose only division game was a 29-29 tie Sept. 16 at Green Bay, are entering a stretch of three straight NFC North games. They play at Chicago on Nov. 18 and are at home against the Packers on Nov. 25. They will conclude the season with December games at Detroit and against the Bears at home.
“The last half of our schedule, we have five division games, so everything that we want to achieve is out in front of us,” Rudolph said.