The Vikings could be getting two starters back for Sunday's game in Detroit.
Left tackle Christian Darrisaw and cornerback Cameron Dantzler had full practices on Friday, according to coach Kevin O'Connell, setting them up to play against the Lions. Darrisaw is listed as questionable despite clearing the concussion protocol and shedding the red no-contact jersey for the first time on Friday. Darrisaw said that he's "good to go," but that O'Connell will decide whether he plays.
"We just want to make sure we're doing what's best for Christian and giving him a chance to have a big impact for us here," O'Connell said.
Darrisaw, the 23-year-old promising left tackle, said these two recent concussions were the first documented concussions of his playing career. He said there were "more steps" to get through the protocol a second time as symptoms slowly subsided over the last 19 days.
"A little bit longer than the first time," Darrisaw said. "Just kind of took things slow, let my body just rest and let everything clear up. Now I'm feeling better."
Dantzler is expected to be activated off injured reserve this weekend and start against the Lions. He said Friday he's healed from the Nov. 6 high-ankle sprain suffered against Washington. Before the injury, Dantzler had four pass deflections and a game-winning forced fumble against the Bears in eight starts this season.
"I missed these ugly faces and being out there with them," Dantzler said with a laugh. "Especially at the moment with a chance to win the division."
The Vikings can clinch the NFC North with a win or a tie against a Lions offense that just put up 437 yards against Jacksonville. Lions quarterback Jared Goff told Detroit reporters this week he's "playing the best football of my career right now" during a 4-1 stretch in which he's thrown seven touchdown passes to one interception.
"I would have to agree," Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "This offense, this team in general, seems like they're starting to catch their stride. Jared has been lights out over this month and a half. [Receiver Amon-Ra] St. Brown has been lights out, the running backs."
Smith, Bradbury questionable
The non-COVID illness running through TCO Performance Center won't keep any players out on Sunday. Edge rusher Danielle Hunter and fullback C.J. Ham returned to practice on Friday and were full participants. Peterson and safety Theo Jackson were also full go.
Safety Harrison Smith is listed as questionable because of a neck injury he suffered against the Jets, O'Connell said, but didn't show up on the injury report until Friday. Center Garrett Bradbury is also questionable because of a back injury that limited him all week.
"He's recovered from the illness," O'Connell said of Smith. "We're just working through kind of a neck thing he had lingering from the game that just kind of acted up throughout the week."
Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard (biceps) has been ruled out.
A tougher test
The Vikings held the Patriots and Jets to one touchdown in nine red-zone trips — a key to the last two wins. But New England and New York have consistently been among the NFL's worst at punching in touchdowns. The Lions are a different animal.
Detroit's offense trails only Philadelphia in red-zone touchdown rate, according to Football Outsiders. The Jets failed on two goal-line throws from the 1-yard line against the Vikings, but the Lions' 17 red-zone rushing touchdowns are topped only by the Eagles.
"I'm preparing my body for a physical one," nose tackle Harrison Phillips said.
- With a five-game lead in the NFC North and five games to go, edge rusher Za'Darius Smith is headed toward being on a division winner for the fifth straight season across three different teams in the Ravens, Packers and Vikings. For defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson, this is the first time he's on a winning NFL team in six seasons.
- The Lions (5-7) — two games behind the Seahawks (7-5) in the NFC wild-card playoff race — announced Friday the availability of standing room-only tickets for Sunday's game as the team expects attendance to exceed Ford Field's 65,000 seating capacity.
- Running back Alexander Mattison said earlier this week he hoped to avoid a fine for his twerking touchdown celebration Sunday because league-controlled accounts shared it on social media. But he indicated Friday that he was indeed fined. "They share it like crazy," Mattison wrote, "then fine you like crazy."