The Vikings activated Michael Pierce from injured reserve, clearing the nose tackle to play for the first time since he aggravated an elbow injury on Oct. 3 against the Lions.
But while they will have Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson back together on the first level of their defense, they won't have Eric Kendricks on the second level.
Kendricks, who had been listed as questionable to play on Sunday after missing Thursday's practice and being limited in Friday's practice because of a biceps injury, was downgraded to out on Saturday. In the Vikings' first game against the Lions, he intercepted a pass while recording eight combined tackles, and also posted an interception against Detroit in 2020.
He will miss his first game of the season, while the Vikings try to see if Anthony Barr (who is questionable with knee and hamstring injuries) is healthy enough to play.
In addition to Kendricks, the team is already without Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, and could be without Patrick Peterson after the cornerback tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Peterson, who has said he is vaccinated, could return in time for the game if he produces two negative tests at least 24 hours apart, though the Vikings had not activated from the COVID-19 reserve list as of Saturday afternoon.
The Vikings also announced running back Kene Nwangwu — who returned his second kickoff of the season for a touchdown last week and might be in line to play a bigger role on offense with Dalvin Cook out — was downgraded to questionable because of an illness.
Pierce, who had been placed on injured reserve Nov. 13, returns from an injury the team initially thought would have him back following its Week 7 bye. He had injured his elbow and shoulder the Thursday before the Vikings' Week 4 win against the Browns, but played in the game and aggravated the elbow injury, which has kept him out since then. Assuming he is healthy enough to make it through the game, the Vikings will have Pierce and Tomlinson together a week after neither was able to play against the 49ers (Tomlinson was on the COVID-19 list).
The Vikings elevated safety Myles Dorn and fullback Jake Bargas from the practice squad for the game, also activating defensive end Kenny Willekes from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement. They released defensive end Eddie Yarbrough as part of the moves.
The team also announced defensive backs coach Karl Scott will not coach on Sunday because of COVID-19 protocols. Assistant defensive backs coach Roy Anderson will assume Scott's gameday responsibilities.