Receiver Adam Thielen remains on the COVID list Sunday after a positive test this week and will not play against the Panthers.
Coach Mike Zimmer was holding out hope Thielen could test his way back to the field with negative results, but that has not happened, evident by Thielen’s continued quarantine. The Vikings veteran receiver will miss his first game of the season after leading the NFL with 11 touchdown catches in the first 10 games.
Tight end Irv Smith Jr. (groin/back) was also ruled out Saturday after missing practices Thursday and Friday due to two injuries. Tight end Brandon Dillon and long snapper Andrew DePaola have been elevated from the practice squad and will suit up vs. Carolina.
Guard Ezra Cleveland (ankle) will miss a second straight game with an injury he played through in the Nov. 16 win at Chicago. Veteran Brett Jones will make his second start for Cleveland at right guard.
Receivers Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe are expected to play larger roles without Thielen; tight end Tyler Conklin will step into the No. 2 role again for Smith.
Long snapper Austin Cutting is a healthy scratch for a second straight week, meaning veteran DePaola will get the gig for another game.
Vikings’ inactives: Cleveland (ankle), Smith (groin/back), Cutting, WR K.J. Osborn, S Curtis Riley, CB Dylan Mabin and DE Jordan Brailford
Panthers’ inactives: McCaffery (shoulder), G Dennis Daley (concussion), CB Donte Jackson (toe), OT Greg Little, S Sam Franklin, and QB Will Grier.
Tying up something from last week: safety Harrison Smith was not fined by the NFL for his hit on Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb that drew an unncessary roughness penalty, a league source said Saturday.
However, Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson was fined $4,159 for hitting quarterback Kirk Cousins in the helmet while taking the ball from him, but the contact didn’t draw a flag in the loss.