Even as he faced a tight timetable to return from a right hamstring injury in time for Thursday night’s game against the Redskins, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen said Tuesday he’s doing everything he can to be on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Thielen did not practice Tuesday, and the Vikings’ first injury report of the week Monday said the receiver would not have practiced if the team had actually been on the field a day after Sunday’s win against the Lions. Thielen, though, said he’s still optimistic about keeping his 87-game active streak alive.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes, and I know [the team’s medical staff] is doing whatever it takes to try to get me to play,” Thielen said. “If the doctors think it’s probably not smart to play, then that is what it is. But I’m going to do whatever it takes, and I’m extremely hopeful I can play.”
Thielen injured his hamstring on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins in the first quarter Sunday. A MRI on Monday showed no significant injury to Thielen’s hamstring, but it appeared unlikely then that he would be back in time for the Redskins game. To play Thursday, Thielen would need the approval of a team that came into the season wary of hamstring injuries, given Dalvin Cook’s four-game absence last year after trying to come back too soon from a hamstring injury.
But Thielen, whose 87-game streak is the longest among active receivers, is doing his best to make his case.
“I’m sure they’re getting sick of me [lobbying] in the training room, let’s just say that,” Thielen said, laughing.
He’s also hearing about it from tight end Kyle Rudolph, who kept his own starting streak alive in 2017 after being listed as doubtful for a Week 16 game against the Bengals.
“I told him if your game was not based on speed and you were slow like I am you can play through stuff like this,” Rudolph quipped. “You don’t need explosiveness and athleticism to do what I do. I joked that if he was me, he could gut through this a little bit.”
The Vikings cut punt returner Marcus Sherels on Tuesday, two days after deactivating him and making Mike Hughes the punt returner for Sunday’s game against the Lions.
The decision to cut Sherels seemed inevitable after the Vikings left him off the active roster Sunday, given the fact the team has other options it prefers at cornerback and will get Holton Hill back from a suspension next week. The Vikings did not announce a corresponding move after releasing Sherels, but it seems likely they’ll add another receiver before Thursday’s game with Thielen’s health in question.
Short week challenges
During coach Mike Zimmer’s conversations this week with players about the tight turnaround from Sunday to Thursday, he’s made it clear that the NFL schedule leaves them little room for sympathy.
“I’ve asked a couple of them if they’re tired or they’re sore,” Zimmer said. “They said, ‘Maybe a little,’ and I said, ‘No one cares.’ So that’s basically the extent of that conversation.”
The Vikings, like every other NFL team, are tasked with the Sunday-to-Thursday turnaround once a season. For the first time since Zimmer has been the head coach, though, they won’t have to make it while traveling for a Thursday game. They played Thursday nights in Green Bay in 2014 and Arizona in 2015, before 2016 and 2017 Thanksgiving Day games in Detroit and a Thursday night game in Los Angeles last year.
Griffen, Joseph practice
After being listed as non-participants in the Vikings’ estimated injury report on Monday, Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph were full participants in the team’s Tuesday practice. Griffen, who has a quadriceps injury, and Joseph (who has a knee injury) were both on the field for the indoor session, where players worked without pads and helmets. Hercules Mata’afa (neck) and Xavier Rhodes (hip) were full participants after being listed as limited on Monday. Thielen was the only player not to participate.