Days after Vikings defensive lineman Ross Blacklock was ruled out from Sunday's win against the Jets because of an unspecified illness, the team is dealing with an outbreak at TCO Performance Center in Eagan.
Five players — edge rusher Danielle Hunter, cornerback Patrick Peterson, safety Harrison Smith, fullback C.J. Ham and safety Theo Jackson — did not practice Wednesday because of an illness and were not spotted during locker room access. None have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a team spokesperson.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks and cornerback Chandon Sullivan were among the small contingent of Vikings players wearing masks during the open portion of Wednesday's walkthrough.
Head coach Kevin O'Connell spoke before practice and did not mention the sick players. O'Connell said left tackle Christian Darrisaw is in a "good spot," but he remained in the concussion protocol and was limited.
"He'll be out here working and progressing through that as he finally, hopefully, works through those phases," O'Connell said. "We'll have a conversation when that time comes about his availability this week."
Cornerback Cameron Dantzler returned to practice for the first time since suffering a high-ankle sprain in the Nov. 6 win at Washington. O'Connell said they'll monitor Dantzler with the hope he will be ready to start in Detroit, where they'll need him after rookie cornerback Akayleb Evans (concussion) joined Andrew Booth Jr. (knee) on injured reserve.
Evans will miss a minimum of four games after suffering what O'Connell called the third concussion during the rookie's brief time in Minnesota. There's a chance Evans returns this season, O'Connell added. Tight end Ben Ellefson underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia injury that has bothered him throughout the season. He was also placed on injured reserve.
Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, who suffered a right biceps injury against the Jets, did not practice. Center Garrett Bradbury (back) was limited.
Running back Ty Chandler, the rookie fifth-round pick who suffered a broken thumb in the Oct. 9 win against Chicago, also returned to practice. He remains on injured reserve as the team opens a three-week window to evaluate him.
Receiver Adam Thielen credited former teammates for showing him the way when he was presented Wednesday to local reporters as the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. Thielen and the NFL's other 31 nominees for the league's highest off-field honor will wear commemorative patches on their uniforms for the rest of the season.
"Kyle Rudolph, Chad Greenway, and the list goes on," Thielen said, "that really paved the way to say this is how it's done. I can play great on Sundays but also give back in a major way and really impact children's lives. I remember going to their events as a young player and hearing some of the people they'd impacted get up and talk. It's those moments."
The Thielen Foundation, which the wide receiver started with his wife, Caitlin, has donated more than $2.5 million in the past four years, including a $1 million gift in October to eight different Twin Cities organizations.
Lions rookie receiver Jameson Williams — the No. 12 overall pick drafted by Detroit after Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah agreed to trade back 20 spots in April's first round — will play in his second game on Sunday after debuting last week. Williams played only eight snaps in his return from an ACL tear about 11 months ago, but the talented former Alabama target will have a "huge impact" for Detroit, O'Connell said.
"We were big fans of Jameson. It's hard not to be," O'Connell said. "He's going to have a huge impact on their team and will moving forward. I think it goes back to the dialogue that Kwesi and I had ... there were no surprises, nothing we hadn't talked about."
Adofo-Mensah has talked about not buying into the old adage of never trading within the division after helping Lions General Manager Brad Holmes get Williams. Holmes agreed, dealing tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings in October. Hockenson has 30 catches for 225 yards and a touchdown in five games for Minnesota.
Reagor staying patient
Receiver Jalen Reagor said he's not pleading with coaches for more playing time or targets after turning his only two snaps against the Jets into a 38-yard catch and an 8-yard run. O'Connell said he's proud of the progress made by Reagor, who was acquired Aug. 31 via trade with the Eagles. Reagor said Wednesday that he's comfortable enough in the offense to play more, but that he respects the pecking order: "Adam, K.J., they've earned the right to be on the field," he said.
Reagor added that his recent playmaking, including a 25-yard grab against the Patriots, is no cause for celebration.
"That's what I've done my whole life," Reagor said. "I got here by doing that. Even Dalvin [Cook], some guys are like, it's crazy how relaxed you are or how calm you are when I do stuff because it's normal to me. I just haven't done it much."
Star Tribune writer Ben Goessling contributed to this report.