The Vikings appear on track to get Adam Thielen back in their lineup for the first time since Nov. 3.
The wide receiver was not listed with an injury designation on the team’s final injury report of the week, indicating he’ll make his return on Sunday from the right hamstring injury that has plagued him since Oct. 20. Thielen’s injury occurred on the play when he made his most recent catch, hauling in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins.
While Thielen returns, running back Alexander Mattison will miss his first game of the season with an ankle injury, instead of facing the Los Angeles Chargers near his hometown of San Bernardino, Calif. The Vikings will also be without defensive back Jayron Kearse, who was ruled out after missing his second day of practice on Friday with a toe injury.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes is questionable with an ankle injury, though coach Mike Zimmer said Friday he didn’t expect Rhodes to be limited on Sunday. Wide receiver Bisi Johnson is also questionable with a quadriceps injury.
Boone ready for chance
With Mattison unable to play Sunday, the Vikings could turn to second-year running back Mike Boone for a handful of carries behind Dalvin Cook. Boone carried five times for 13 yards against the Lions on Sunday, logging his first rushing attempts since Week 3 against the Raiders.
“It’s trying to be able to fill that void that he left, and do what [Mattison] can do,” Boone said. “Alex is a big back, a big, powerful back. If my number’s called, I’m going to try my best to convert and get the first down.”
The Vikings will also have Ameer Abdullah on Sunday against the Chargers, but when asked what he would do with Mattison out, Zimmer replied, “Probably play Boone.” On Thursday, offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski said “maybe no player has come as far” as Boone has this season.
“He’s been terrific all year long as far as in practice and preseason games,” Zimmer said. “I thought he ran hard last week. He’s done a nice job.”
Pipkins jumps in early
The Chargers took Apple Valley graduate Trey Pipkins in the third round of the draft in April, completing the University of Sioux Falls product’s surge up the draft board.
Pipkins was seen as something of a project, especially as a pass protector, coming out of college, but he was pressed into the Chargers’ lineup for a Week 11 game in Mexico City after injuries kept Russell Okung and Sam Tevi out against the Chiefs. He allowed two quarterback hits in the Monday night matchup but didn’t give up a sack.
“We had to throw him in the fire this year, and I thought he responded well,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said this week. “He’s a rookie; he’s got a lot to learn, and we had full intentions of him coming in this year and developing and learning. But it was good to see him come in there and compete the way he did.”