EAGAN, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings aren’t ready to completely give up on defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa.
A source said Wednesday, Oct. 14, that the Vikings will sign the third-year man to the practice squad. Mata’afa was waived Tuesday to make room on the roster for defensive end Jordan Brailford, who was signed off Washington’s practice squad. He cleared waivers on Wednesday.
“Herc’s a good kid,” said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. “He’s worked really hard. We just needed some other bodies at the time.”
Mata’afa was let go after rookie defensive tackle James Lynch moved ahead of him on the depth chart. In last Sunday’s 27-26 loss at Seattle, Lynch made his NFL debut, playing eight snaps and getting a sack.
“He’s just starting to get better each week,’’ Zimmer said. “We thought we’d take a look at him. He was fine during the game.’’
Mata’afa was on injured reserve as a rookie in 2018 due to a torn ACL before getting into six games in 2019. Mata’afa played in three of the first four games this season before being inactive against the Seahawks after Lynch had moved ahead of him.
Hunter 'mulling his options'
Zimmer had nothing new to report Wednesday on the status of defensive end Danielle Hunter, who has been on injured reserve all season with a herniated disk in his neck.
“Still kind of mulling his options,’’ Zimmer said.
Hunter went two weeks ago to New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, and a doctor recommended he not play this season. James Cooper, Hunter’s personal trainer, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press last week he also has recommended he sit out the season, and that Hunter was pondering the situation.
Hunter, guard Pat Elflein and rookie linebacker Troy Dye all are eligible to come off injured reserve after having missed at least three games. While Hunter wasn’t at practice Wednesday, Elflein and Dye did work on the side.
Sources said that both Elflein and Dye will remain on injured reserve this week, and there is hope of each being ready to play Nov. 1 at Green Bay after the Vikings have a bye week next week. On Sunday against Atlanta, Elflein will miss his fifth straight game and Dye his fourth in a row.
The Vikings are still banged up at cornerback.
Holton Hill (foot) and Kris Boyd (hamstring) both sat out against the Seahawks. Hill did not practice Wednesday although Boyd was able to participate on a limited basis.
Also missing practice were running back Dalvin Cook (groin), defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (back) and wide receiver K.J. Osborn (hamstring). Osborn also sat out against Seattle.
Also listed as limited were center Garrett Bradbury (finger/knee) and fullback C.J. Ham (shoulder).
Smith finally breaks out
In the first four games, Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. caught just two passes for 14 yards. He finally broke out against the Seahawks, catching four balls for 64 yards.
“Very impressive,” said Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. “I thought he did an awesome job, also, in the running game, blocking. … Hopefully, we can keep that going, and we expect him to keep putting impressive plays on tape when the ball comes his way. He’s wired to be a great player.”
The Vikings are still trying to get tight end Kyle Rudolph going. He has just seven receptions for 76 yards in their five games.