Despite the Vikings’ 1-2-1 start, quarterback Kirk Cousins and receiver Adam Thielen have joined some rare company.
Thielen’s eight catches for 135 yards and a touchdown on Thursday night against the Rams makes him just the third receiver in the Super Bowl era to start a season with four consecutive 100-yard games, joining Randy Moss for the Patriots (2007) and Isaac Bruce for the Rams (2004). Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster also has a chance to join the club on Sunday.
“It’s what I thought when I met Adam and Stef [Diggs] in April,” Cousins said. “We threw on the field and I said, ‘These guys can play.’ ”
Cousins, who threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns against the Rams, became just the third Vikings quarterback with two 400-yard passing games in the same season. He joins Daunte Culpepper (2004) and Warren Moon (1994), needing another 400-yard game to set the single-season franchise record.
“Certainly we can move the football,” Cousins said, “and we just have to turn it into wins.”
Griffen won’t be back soon
Defensive end Everson Griffen is not expected to return to the Vikings this weekend or next week, according to head coach Mike Zimmer. Griffen said Thursday night on his verified Instagram account that there is no “exact timeline” for his return from taking care of his mental health.
Based on Zimmer’s “no” when asked if Griffen could return next week, he is not expected to play in the Oct. 7 NFC Championship Game rematch when the Vikings travel to Philadelphia. The Vikings had one sack against Rams quarterback Jared Goff in Thursday night’s 38-31 loss.
McDermott has surgery
Long snapper Kevin McDermott underwent surgery Friday on the top of his left pinkie after the tip was removed in a facemask on Thursday night. The injury occurred during a second-quarter field goal attempt. He returned just before halftime with a stitched and heavily wrapped finger.
Two second-quarter snaps are all the Vikings needed from backup long snapper David Morgan before McDermott returned to snap for three punts and two successful field goals.
Iloka to ‘wait his turn’
Safety George Iloka came to the Vikings with 79 starts in the past five seasons, but he’s just one of three defensive backs who have yet to play this season, along with cornerback Marcus Sherels and safety Anthony Harris. The Vikings expect Iloka to see the field “at some point” this season. So far, the pass defense has surrendered 17 throws for 20-plus yards in four games.
“I have complete confidence in him,” Zimmer said. “Typically, there are two safeties on the field. I got some I like, and he is just going to have to wait his turn. He will get an opportunity at some point, I am sure.”
Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fewer rushing first downs (8) than the Vikings’ 10 through four games, and the Buccaneers get a chance to pass them Sunday against the Bears. Running back Dalvin Cook’s return on Thursday night didn’t ignite the running game after he took 10 carries for 20 yards before playing catch-up in the second half.
Cook’s snaps were being closely monitored heading into a 10-day gap between games, Zimmer said.
“We wanted to give him about 15, 20 plays,” Zimmer said. “Because we didn’t want him to reinjure his hamstring. He had 18 plays, I believe. That is what it is.”