Next hamstring up.
In Wednesday’s tale of two Purple hammies, Adam Thielen spent practice resting while fellow receiver Josh Doctson continued testing in hopes of being activated in time to play in his hometown when the Vikings travel to Dallas on Sunday night.
“It’s 100 percent,” said Doctson, who was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 11, a week after the 26-year-old former Redskin was signed off the waiver wire. “I’m ready to go” and is eligible to return to the active roster this week.
Thielen, meanwhile, is expected to miss at least Sunday’s game after injuring the hamstring Oct. 20 at Detroit, missing the Washington game four days later and reinjuring it in the opening minutes at Kansas City on Sunday. He also could sit out the following week’s game against Denver and then have the bye and an extra day before the Vikings play Dec. 2 at Seattle on Monday Night Football.
“It’s kind of a thing around the league this time of year,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said of hamstring injuries. “It’s unfortunate, unlucky. Adam’s been so healthy for so long. He’ll get back when he gets back and he’ll help us when he does.”
Meanwhile, Cousins could be welcoming old Washington buddy Doctson into the fold as he makes his Vikings debut in what could be a limited but potentially lethal role in the Vikings’ downfield passing attack.
“When you have so many other people you’re trying to distribute the ball to it can be tough to get a [new] guy into a rhythm,” Cousins said. “So when he does get an opportunity here or there, he is going to have to make the absolute most of it. And I know he can do that.”
There are examples to justify Cousins’ faith.
In 2017, Doctson’s second season and his only full one with Cousins, the two connected on a team-high six touchdown passes. Doctson also played a key role in one of Cousins’ brightest NFL moments.
Nov. 5, 2017. At Seattle’s CenturyLink Field against a Seahawks team that was 5-2.
Russell Wilson’s 30-yard touchdown strike to Doug Baldwin gave Seattle a 14-10 lead with 1 minute, 34 seconds left. Cousins opened the ensuing drive with a pass that was batted down at the line of scrimmage.
But then he completed a 31-yard deep ball down the right sideline to Brian Quick while being knocked down behind a line missing three starters that day.
First-and-10 at the Seattle 39 with 1:24 left.
“Game on the line and we went into the huddle talking about getting me a chance on the left side,” Doctson said. “One-on-one coverage, I beat it and Kirk gave me the chance we talked about. I’m hoping for those same chances in Minnesota.”
Before the snap, Cousins looked at Doctson. He tapped his helmet. He took the snap, looked the safety off, turned and fired.
“Just another example of a go ball where he was able to get on top of the defender and make an unbelievable catch,” Cousins remembered Wednesday. “When you go back and watch his highlight film from his days at TCU, it’s very impressive what he can do when the ball is in the air.”
The big-bodied Doctson had beaten then-rookie corner Shaquill Griffin on an outside cut. He gained separation a the 12-yard line, dived from the 10, caught the ball at the 7 and was tagged down at the 1.
A 1-yard touchdown run on the next play gave Washington a 17-14 lead that held up as the first victory by a non-NFC West opponent at Seattle in two years.
“Kirk has shown he can make those big downfield throws with great accuracy,” Doctson said. “We got down the field in a hurry. Two plays, 70 yards on Kirk’s arm.”
A road win against a team with a winning record is something Vikings fans expect to see more of from Cousins. Perhaps Doctson can help even in a limited role.
“He’s got a great frame, so there’s just a comfort level to throw to when you see a [tall] guy running down the field,” Cousins said. “You know you can miss and he’ll make you right with his size. Great speed. Sometimes you get guys who are a little bigger and they’re not going to run by people. But he showed he can run by people and has really good ball skills.
“The more we can get him out there and keep him healthy the more effective he can be.”