The Vikings got some good news amid mounting injuries at cornerback as rookie Cameron Dantzler has avoided serious injury to his head and neck after a collision that left him strapped to a backboard and in the hospital on Sunday in Green Bay.
Coach Mike Zimmer went as far as to say Dantzler, the third-round pick who plays a full-time role when healthy, could return for this week’s game against the Detroit Lions.
“He’s doing well,” Zimmer said. “He’s got a chance to play this week.”
Fourteen snaps into Dantzler’s fifth career start, he collided with safety Anthony Harris during a tackle on Packers running back A.J. Dillon. Dantzler was motionless for a moment after his helmet clipped Harris’ thigh. He was carted off the field, underwent an x-ray at Lambeau Field and was transported to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.
While the long-term outlook is good for Dantzler, who missed two games earlier this season with an injured rib, his return isn’t guaranteed this week and cornerback remains thin.
Mike Hughes (IR/neck) and Holton Hill (foot) were inactive Sunday. Mark Fields likely won’t be available against Detroit, according to a league source, because of the punctured lung suffered while tackling Packers receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. Kris Boyd, who had just returned from hamstring and back injuries, left Sunday’s game with a leg injury.
“Cam’s a great kid,” Zimmer said. “He’s had a bunch of things happen this year. But he’s a great kid. He’s very humble, very respectful, tries real hard and is a smart guy. We all were concerned. It looks like he’s going to be just fine.”
The Vikings’ first full-team meeting ahead of the Lions game was held online Monday as they remain in the NFL’s intensive COVID-19 protocols through Thursday after two players landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week.
Dillon, who played 17 snaps (10 on offense) against the Vikings, was put on the Packers’ COVID list on Monday after reportedly testing positive, but that doesn’t affect Minnesota, Zimmer said. The NFL has maintained there is no evidence of on-field transmission during play.
“It doesn’t affect us because we’re already in intensive protocol,” Zimmer said. “We’ll be there until Thursday unless they change the rules on us again. But we are there until Thursday as of right now.”
The NFL’s intensive protocols restrict in-person meetings, which are required to be held with masks and in bigger rooms with fewer people, and limits weight room and locker room time. Food is grab-and-go only. Face shields must be worn on helmets in practice.
Cook not held back
Running back Dalvin Cook was not limited in his record-setting day in Green Bay, where he played 46 of 52 snaps (88%) in his return from a groin injury. Zimmer said Cook “felt great” and that, while his heavy workload could vary slightly week to week, the Vikings will lean on him to win every Sunday. Backup running back Alexander Mattison got three carries in five snaps against the Packers.
“He played an awful lot,” Zimmer said. “Part of that is with him being in there, the defense expecting some of the runs, so some of the other things opened up. But, yeah, we’re going to have to ride this guy. He’s a good player.”
Feeling the love
Rookie defensive end D.J. Wonnum shouted out his Georgia hometown of about 6,000 people after his game-sealing sack on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and he’s received many congratulations for the biggest play of his young career. Wonnum, the fourth-round pick out of South Carolina, will maintain a big role this season.
“Oh, man, it was a lot,” Wonnum said. “It was amazing just seeing the love. Being able to do that for Stone Mountain, my city, was a big thing. I’m excited for the future and what’s to come.”