Another week, another change in Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum's outlook with the team as the versatile but raw defender likely finds himself in the starting lineup again following Danielle Hunter's season-ending injury.

Wonnum opened the season as the starter opposite Hunter after winning a training camp competition with Stephen Weatherly, who was traded last month to Denver. But after four starts, defensive end Everson Griffen had taken the job back with stellar play from a proven veteran. Wonnum's ongoing development has been in the background, until now.

"It has definitely been a lot of learning curves," said Wonnum, who has one sack. "I'm going to get better each week."

Wonnum, 24, has been asked to learn multiple positions in two years with the Vikings. Coaches now need him to take steps forward at his main duty, defensive end, and approach the potential he's flashed since he was a 2020 fourth-round pick. Co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson has compared Wonnum's physical build — 6-5, big hands, long arms — to Hunter. But much more goes into producing at an NFL level.

"You've got to have faith in the guys that we have," Patterson said. "Now, Kenny [Willekes] and Pat [Jones] are going to get a chance to play, and I've been preparing them for this moment the whole season. They get their chances to go out there and show what they can do."

Willekes, who made his NFL debut against the Cowboys and played 16 snaps, and Jones, a third-round draft pick, are also expected to help try to replace Hunter's production. Hunter accounted for 37% of the Vikings' quarterback pressures through seven games, according to Pro Football Focus. He has a team-leading six sacks.

The Vikings also claimed defensive end Jonah Williams off waivers from the Rams. Williams was a 2020 undrafted free agent out of Weber State who made the Rams' initial 53-man roster this season before he was let go in the wake of the Von Miller trade this week. He was a part-time player in eight games for Los Angeles.

Pierce returns to practice

Nose tackle Michael Pierce practiced on a limited basis Wednesday for the first time since leaving the Oct. 3 loss to the Browns in the first half with an elbow injury. Pierce initially suffered the injury in practice on Sept. 30, but attempted to play through it before missing the past three-plus games.

This week would be a good time for Pierce to return against his former team in Baltimore, where Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson leads the league's most unique run game.

"We'll see how the week goes," Patterson said. "Hopefully we'll have him on Sunday."

Griffen (rest), linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) and cornerback Cameron Dantzler (ankle) were held out of practice. Griffen jogged through drills, while Barr and Dantzler left the field after warmups, during the beginning portion of practice open to reporters.

Cowboys request review of Smith tackle

In a highlight video published by the Cowboys from Sunday's game, Dallas receiver CeeDee Lamb was recorded on the sideline saying, "man was choking the [life] out of me" after a play in which safety Harrison Smith tackled Lamb and had his arms around Lamb's neck. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy was asked about Lamb's allegation Wednesday, and told Dallas reporters they turned the video into the league as part of the weekly 10 plays each team is allotted to submit for review.

"It's definitely a play we looked at and talked about," McCarthy said. "That's all part of the officiating process."

The play begins at the 2:40 mark of the video below:


  • The NFL trade deadline came and went Tuesday without a peep from the Vikings, but it wasn't for a lack of effort, said Zimmer: "We tried and didn't get anything done."
  • The Eagles released former Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson on Wednesday. He started just two games for Philadelphia after signing a one-year, $2.75 million contract in free agency.