Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler has “full movement” and was expected to travel back with the team from Green Bay on Sunday, after he was carted off the field and evaluated for a concussion and neck injury at a hospital.
Dantzler, the rookie activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday, was tackling Packers running back A.J. Dillon in the first quarter when safety Anthony Harris’ thigh appeared to clip Dantzler’s helmet, causing his head and neck to snap back. He was evaluated by Vikings trainers before he was strapped onto a backboard and carted off the field.
“Cam’s doing better,” coach Mike Zimmer said postgame. “He went to the hospital, evaluated for a concussion. They’re bringing him back now and he should head back [with] us tonight.”
The collision left Dantzler motionless for seconds. His acknowledgment of teammates while being carted into the locker room eased the worst fears, linebacker Eric Kendricks said. Dantzler underwent an X-ray at Lambeau Field before he was taken to a hospital “out of caution,” the team said in a statement.
“As he was leaving the field, he started wiggling a little bit,” Kendricks said. “He was looking at us and talking to us a little bit. It was a good sign from there.”
Multiple new injuries popped up at cornerback, where the Vikings were already without Mike Hughes (neck) and Holton Hill (foot) entering Sunday. Cornerback Mark Fields exited in the third quarter because of a punctured lung, according to a source. He seemed to suffer the injury while tackling Packers receiver Equanimeous St. Brown on a fourth-down conversion. Cornerback Kris Boyd was helped off the field in the fourth quarter because of an apparent leg injury.
Down to two available corners in rookies Jeff Gladney and Harrison Hand, the Vikings moved safety Anthony Harris to nickel corner and rookie Josh Metellus went in at safety for the final few minutes.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished with 291 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough.
“We had corners that were gone, hurt. We had to play [without] a nickel [corner],” Zimmer said. “Try to manufacture all those things and get the calls they could execute, as well.”
Both the Vikings (seven penalties for 36 yards) and Packers (nine penalties for 85 yards) were called for season highs in penalty totals by referee Alex Kemp, whose crews entered Sunday throwing the third-most flags of any NFL referee.
Four of the 16 accepted penalties were for some form of pass interference, an infraction only one other NFL referee’s crew has called more than Kemp’s. But the Vikings caught a break when officials picked up a flag on Harris for early contact with Packers tight end Robert Tonyan on fourth down in the fourth quarter.
“I was surprised they threw the flag, how about that?” Kendricks said.
Wonnum steps up
Jalyn Holmes got his second NFL start at defensive end in place of Yannick Ngakoue, who was traded to the Ravens during the Vikings’ bye week.
The new-look defensive line didn’t get a sack until rookie end D.J. Wonnum hit Rodgers from behind on the game’s final play, which can serve as a confidence boost for Wonnum and other young defenders.
“It’s important not only for him but for other guys to see that as well,” Zimmer said. “Part of the thing with D.J., and with all young players, is learning to trust your athleticism. Kind of just free-flowing and playing. That kind of thing will help him in the future.”
Cleveland keeps job
Rookie Ezra Cleveland kept his starting right guard job despite the return of Dru Samia from a wrist injury. Cleveland replaced Samia in the Week 6 loss to the Falcons and has taken over that spot after Samia struggled through four starts.
The Vikings have another two weeks to activate Pat Elflein from injured reserve. He returned to practice last week.
Andrew Krammer did not travel to Green Bay for Sunday’s game. He wrote this account after watching the television broadcast and participating in interviews via videoconference.