In their final game before the bye week, the Vikings will again have to play without wide receiver Adam Thielen and defensive tackle Linval Joseph.
Thielen will miss his third game this season because of the hamstring injury he suffered on Oct. 20, while Joseph, who had meniscus surgery last week, will be out for the second game in a row. The Vikings will also be without guard Josh Kline, who remains in the concussion protocol, and safety Anthony Harris, who sustained a groin injury this week.
Andrew Sendejo, who is listed as questionable for the game after sitting out last week because of a groin injury, appears in line to start at safety if he is able to play, while Jaleel Johnson should start again in place of Joseph at nose tackle. On offense, Dakota Dozier is in line to make his fourth start of the season — his third in place of Kline at right guard.
With Thielen out again, the Vikings activated receiver Josh Doctson from injured reserve, putting the former Washington first-round draft pick in line to make his debut after a hamstring injury landed him on IR on Sept. 12.
Cutting reaches out to Buzz Aldrin
Vikings long snapper Austin Cutting, who graduated from Air Force this spring, is serving his two-year military commitment while playing in Minnesota as a rookie. As the Vikings honor veterans on Sunday as part of the NFL’s annual Salute to Service, Cutting autographed a football he will send along with a letter to Buzz Aldrin, the second American to walk on the moon 50 years ago.
Cutting’s connection to the Apollo moon mission dates back to his time at the academy, where each class since 2000 has picked an exemplar the students hope to emulate. Cutting’s class chose the late Neil Armstrong as freshmen, putting an astronaut and a pair of footsteps — along with an eagle that resembles the one on the Apollo 11 mission patch — on its class crest.
When the NFL asked players to write a letter to a veteran, Cutting took the opportunity to thank Aldrin on behalf of his class at Air Force.
“I’m not doing it to hopefully be able to meet him,” Cutting said. “I definitely think it’d be awesome, but the whole purpose of it was to [let him] know he’s kind of been a driving force for our entire class. It’ll be cool to know that he’s at least getting something from me.”
The Vikings will honor team security director Kim Klawiter — a Bronze Star medal recipient for heroism in Vietnam — on Sunday, while Cutting takes his normal place next to coach Mike Zimmer during the national anthem.
“He’s always standing at attention, very diligently, watching the flag or listening to the song,” Zimmer said. “That’s what true Americans should be.”
As the NFL suspended the Browns’ Myles Garrett indefinitely for swinging Steelers’ quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet at him during a fight on Thursday night, Zimmer issued a strong reaction to the brawl after seeing highlights of it Friday morning.
“It was terrible. It was ridiculous,” he said. “It shouldn’t happen in our game.”
The Vikings have five unnecessary roughness penalties this season, which ranks 23rd in the league, but have typically ranked among the teams with the fewest roughness penalties in the NFL. Zimmer said there’s an art to getting players to be aggressive while staying within the rules.
“I just think it starts with the discipline — I’m not talking about any other team or anything like that, but I think guys understand where the line is, what they can get away with and what they can’t,” Zimmer said. “The discipline of your football team on what you’ll put up with is part of it. Knock on wood, we’ve been pretty resilient in doing those things the right way.”