Adam Thielen has played seven snaps since first injuring his hamstring Oct. 20 in Detroit, and the Vikings receiver still is not expected to play Sunday against the Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings officially deemed Thielen’s status as doubtful against Detroit after he was sidelined throughout three practices this week. It would be his fourth straight missed game; he is in the seventh week of recovering from a hamstring strain twice hit by snags, first in an attempted return Nov. 3 in Kansas City and then during a Nov. 26 practice.
Left tackle Riley Reiff is listed as questionable, the NFL’s designation for a 50/50 chance to play. He was placed in the concussion protocol at halftime of Monday’s 37-30 loss in Seattle. He progressed with a limited practice Friday but needs to be examined by an independent neurologist to clear the protocol and play Sunday against the Lions.
If Reiff is sidelined, Rashod Hill would make his 16th regular-season start since the Vikings plucked him off Jacksonville’s practice squad three years ago. Hill said he used the Vikings’ bye week to reconnect with a personal trainer and refine his play.
“Not to say I’m where I want to be, there’s always improvement,” Hill said, “but I’m a lot more comfortable now than when I got here.”
Cook set to play
Running back Dalvin Cook was not on the Vikings’ final injury report, meaning he’ll suit up against the Lions. Whether his workload changes remains to be seen as he plays through a shoulder injury that he said Wednesday is a matter of pain tolerance. Cook fumbled twice in Seattle when he was hit or landed on his right shoulder.
Coach Mike Zimmer was confident when asked how the Vikings tested Cook’s grip in practices while limiting contact to his shoulder. Cook was a full participant Friday.
“He’s not going to fumble,” Zimmer said. “Let’s just say that.”
Hughes ‘dialed in’ on punt returns
In an effort to improve punt returns, Vikings coaches had players including receiver Laquon Treadwell crowd cornerback Mike Hughes while Hughes fielded punts in practices. Hughes has muffed three punts with just nine returns for 38 yards since taking over for injured Chad Beebe.
“They’re just trying to get me better, and I think it’s really working,” Hughes said. “We’re doing more in game-type situations when it comes to me catching. It has me a little more dialed in.”
‘Full metal jacket’ as Joseph is ready
Nose tackle Linval Joseph said he’s feeling “great” and will be without limitations Sunday, when the Vikings run defense needs a rebound against Detroit. Joseph, 31, cut an estimated six-week recovery in half when he returned Monday in Seattle, three weeks after knee surgery. He started and fell one snap short of a season high with 53 snaps while the Vikings defense allowed its most rushing yards (218) in four years. Joseph didn’t use his injury as an excuse.
“Full metal jacket,” he said. “Like nothing had happened to me.”
He said it
Defensive end Everson Griffen admitted the Vikings defense needed better performances to win road games in Kansas City and Seattle, but he was not shy about the defensive line’s potential starting Sunday against the Lions.
“Every week you have your challenges,” Griffen said, “but I think we have the best group in the NFL. We just have to go out and prove it each week. If we go do that, we can be the best D-line in the NFL.”