The Vikings defense will be without its de facto quarterback as linebacker Eric Kendricks has been ruled out for Sunday's game in Tampa Bay.
Kendricks, who reaggravated a calf injury in pregame warmups last week vs. Jacksonville, was unable to practice this week and will not play against the Buccaneers. Linebacker Eric Wilson will take over Kendricks' duties as the middle backer in the often-used nickel defense, with veteran Todd Davis again expected to start next to Wilson.
Fourth-round rookie Troy Dye will likely be the third linebacker in the base defense.
"They're not Eric Kendricks yet, but when Eric was young, he wasn't [what he is now]," Zimmer said after Friday's practice. "Troy Dye, he's got to go in there and play well, and Todd Davis and Eric Wilson, those guys have done a nice job. They're good football players. They're not Kendricks, but that's OK."
The Vikings also appear likely to be without tight end Kyle Rudolph due to a foot injury. Rudolph has spent the week getting treatment on his foot, according to Zimmer, with the hope of starting his 99th straight game. He hasn't missed a game since 2014 with a position-leading 98 straight starts, including the playoffs.
Rudolph is the only Vikings player to suit up under Zimmer despite being listed "doubtful" on an injury report. He played in December 2017 against the Bengals through an ankle injury that kept him from practicing that week.
"He's a pretty fast healer, so we'll just see," Zimmer said. "He's been getting a lot of treatment this week and he wants to play really bad. I don't want to count him out, yet."
Tight end Irv Smith Jr. (back) is listed questionable, however coordinator Gary Kubiak said this week they're expecting Smith and tight end Tyler Conklin to carry the workload with the expectation Rudolph can't play.
Smith returned to practice Thursday and Friday, and was limited in both sessions. He's missed three of the last four games due to groin and back injuries.
Bucs' injury report: CB Jamel Dean (groin) is listed doubtful; the starter is a "game-time decision," according to Bucs coach Bruce Arians.