The Vikings listed wide receiver Adam Thielen as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, after limiting him in practice all three days this week.
Thielen said Friday he will test his right hamstring before the game, pointing out he’s still got two more days to let it heal before he has to see whether he can play against the Chiefs.
After sitting out for the first time in 87 games against Washington, Thielen has been pushing to return for the Chiefs game, but the Vikings’ decision will come down to whether they deem it wise to bring him back two weeks after he injured his hamstring against the Lions.
Thielen ran in front of a resistance band to test his hamstring Wednesday before running routes during the open portion of practice, and he has worn a sleeve on his right leg all week. If the Vikings decide to hold him out of the game, the choice could be motivated by a desire not to have Thielen risk the same kinds of setbacks Dalvin Cook faced when he tried to return two weeks after a hamstring injury last season. Cook came back for a Week 4 game against the Rams, and he missed the team’s next four games.
If Thielen is able to return, the Vikings will welcome having their best two receivers together for a game that could require them to put up some points on the road.
“I think it’s nice having some skill players across the board at each position,” offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski said. “Certainly those two guys, everybody knows, are two special football players. It allows you to balance the field out when they’re on either side, and I can imagine for defenses, you could try to take one away or you could try to take both away, but that’s where we have to have depth and we do.”
The Chiefs listed quarterback Patrick Mahomes as questionable on their final injury report, and the 2018 NFL MVP worked as the No. 2 QB in practice all week as he continued to recover from a dislocated knee injury.
If Mahomes is unable to return two weeks after he injured his knee, Matt Moore would be in line for his second start of the year, after throwing for 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Packers a week ago. The Chiefs would be missing Mahomes’ improvisational skill (and might have to count on it less even if a limited Mahomes is able to play), but their long list of playmakers and their use of run-pass options could cause the Vikings trouble.
“Our big thing is that we have to have a rush plan for both guys and understand what they’re trying to do schematically also with that,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “[Kansas City coach Andy Reid] has adjusted, depending on who is the quarterback, but the skill set of both quarterbacks are a little bit different. But offensively, you can see a lot of the similar concepts they’re using, so we got to do a good job of defending both quarterbacks and have a rush plan for both, and also the concepts that they’re using in the passing game.”
Hill a question mark
Cornerback Holton Hill returned to practice this week after a pair of suspensions kept him out for the first eight games of the year, and Zimmer said Hill looked “pretty good” in the Vikings’ three practices of the week.
Whether he’ll play on Sunday, though, remains to be seen.
“I haven’t decided yet,” Zimmer said when asked Friday if he would activate Hill for the game.