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Reiff clears concussion protocol, will start against Lions

Left tackle Riley Reiff made a quick turnaround after he was placed in the concussion protocol at halftime of Monday’s loss in Seattle and was unable to practice until a limited session on Friday.

Reiff passed through the five-step protocol, meaning he was cleared by the team physician and an independent neurological consultant, and is active against the Lions — his former team that drafted him in 2012’s first round.

Receiver Adam Thielen is the only injured Vikings player unable to play against the Lions. He’s inactive for a fourth straight game during the seventh week of recovery from a strained hamstring suffered Oct. 20 in Detroit.

Running back Dalvin Cook (chest/shoulder) is active after a full practice on Friday. He’s expected to maintain his starting role, but it remains to be seen how much work No. 2 running back Alexander Mattison will handle while Cook plays through pain. Vikings coaches trust fullback C.J. Ham as a third-down protector, so he could factor into the backfield as well.

Rookie defensive lineman Armon Watts is active for a fourth straight game and should continue to rotate off the bench. Watts deflected the pass that led to safety Anthony Harris’ interception return for a touchdown in Seattle.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (hip/back) will miss his fifth straight game. He’s replaced by rookie David Blough, the undrafted Purdue product, making his second straight start.

Former Vikings quarterback Kyle Sloter is Detroit’s backup quarterback at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Lions signed Sloter off the Cardinals practice squad last week.

Vikings’ inactives:Thielen (hamstring), OT Oli Udoh, OT Aviante Collins, G Dru Samia, DT Jalyn Holmes, DT Hercules Mata’afa and LB Cameron Smith

Lions’ inactives:Stafford (hip/back), CB Jamal Agnew (ankle), OL Oday Aboushi, DL Da’Shawn Hand, DE Austin Bryant (hip), OL Beau Benzschawel and CB Michael Jackson

Thielen's hamstring injury keeps him out of Vikings practice

Coach Mike Zimmer said Adam Thielen didn’t suffer a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury, but the Pro Bowl receiver missed a second straight practice on Thursday and now appears likely to sit out a fourth straight game when the Vikings play the Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

“I think he’s getting really close, but there’s really no sense to push it,” Zimmer said. “Like today, there’s really no sense to push it. We’ll see how it goes next week or, uh, tomorrow.”

Whether that last sentence was a slip of the lip or not, who knows. But one thing is certain.

“He’s frustrated,” Zimmer said.

Thielen played nine snaps against the Lions on Oct. 20. His ninth snap was a 25-yard touchdown pass that jump-started a 42-30 win.
He sat out the Washington game four days later before trying to play the following Sunday at Kansas City. His hamstring lasted seven snaps.

Thielen was limited in practice last week and was listed as questionable on Saturday’s final injury report before being ruled out on Sunday.

“[Hamstring injuries] are all different,” Zimmer said “We always get an MRI. Sometimes two or three MRIs to see where they’re at. And typically, at the end of the day, you have to trust the player.

“If the MRI looks pretty good, you trust the player. If the player says he can play, then you let him play. That’s kind of what happened a few weeks ago against Kansas City. That’s what happened. The MRI looked good, the player said he could play. Started to play and he couldn’t end up playing. So we’ve been cautious with it. We’ve had a couple more MRIs.”

Reiff also sits, Joseph returns

Left tackle Riley Reiff remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol and did not practice Thursday. If he can’t play, Rashod Hill will make his 18th start in four seasons as a Viking, including playoffs.

Hill has 13 starts at right tackle and four at left tackle. He hasn’t started a game this season but started eight last year. He stepped in for Reiff for the second half of Monday night’s game in Seattle.

“I think Rashod has proven to be very versatile,” said offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. “You saw [Monday] that he came in and I thought performed pretty well. … He’s really taken the bit as being a player that is always ready to go.”

Meanwhile, nose tackle Linval Joseph (knee) was listed as a full participant in Thursday’s practice after sitting out Wednesday.

Upgraded from limited on Wednesday to full participant on Thursday were safety Harrison Smith (hamstring) and linebacker Eric Wilson (shoulder). Limited again Thursday were running back Dalvin Cook (chest), defensive end Everson Griffen (knee) and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee).

Gedeon ‘pushed it too far’

Two concussions in a six-week span landed linebacker Ben Gedeon on injured reserve last week. Zimmer paused and searched for the right words when asked Thursday about having to put Gedeon on IR.

“Ben loves to play the game,” Zimmer said. “And I think he might have pushed it a little too far. He should have just been a little more patient with it. He passed all the tests, but sometimes it reoccurs on certain things. So it was bothering him for a while.”

Gedeon suffered the first one against the Giants in Week 5. He missed two games and then played in four, suffering a second concussion against the Broncos before the bye week.

Maalouf takes the blame

Special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf said he was to blame for Seattle’s 29-yard run on a fake field goal in Monday night’s game.

“That’s totally on me,” he said. “I think I probably was trying to be a little bit too aggressive. Our players did a good job of lining up. I think I was just trying to force the situation where we should have probably been a little bit more conservative.

“We saw a couple things on film earlier in the week that I don’t necessarily want to share right now in case we have to play them again. But I think we were trying to go after something and it probably wasn’t the right time.”

NFL Scoreboard

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