The Vikings have kept options open at tight end this week with injuries thinning half the room.
Kyle Rudolph (ankle) and Blake Bell (shoulder) missed a second consecutive practice Thursday, putting their statuses into question for Sunday against the Bengals.
If Rudolph is held out, tight end David Morgan is set to return from concussion protocol and would step into the lead role. He was a full participant in practice Thursday.
“He’s played a lot of football for us in really all the groupings,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “He’s played in the single tight end sets and double and three tight end sets. He knows what to do.”
The Vikings could sign another tight end or promote Kyle Carter from the practice squad. They worked out free agents Sam Cotton and Steve Donatell this week, according to a source. Cotton (6-4, 250 pounds) went undrafted out of Nebraska and originally signed with the Patriots. Donatell (6-6, 241 pounds) was an undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky who initially signed in Seattle.
Left tackle Riley Reiff (ankle) and cornerback Mackensie Alexander (chest), could return from injury, said coach Mike Zimmer.
Can you hear me now?
You’ve heard the stories about Foxboro and Patriots opponents’ headsets cutting out or not working at all. Zimmer says it’s not uncommon. Vikings coaches have lost radio connection with each other and/or players on the field “four or five times” this season, he said, including once at home.
“It happens a lot,” Zimmer said. “Probably four times this year it didn’t work at the beginning of the game for the whole first series or two series. It happens.”
The Vikings work around the malfunctions with signals from the sideline, Zimmer said.
“Most of the time, it’s on the road,” Zimmer said.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes returned to practice Thursday and was limited due to a hip injury suffered in Carolina. Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur returned after being held out Wednesday due to a foot injury. Four other Vikings were limited: center Pat Elflein (shoulder), right tackle Mike Remmers (low back), guard Jeremiah Sirles (knee) and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (shoulder).
Two Bengals defenders — linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick — have not practiced yet this week while in the concussion protocol.
Nearly 17 inches of snow fell last weekend onto Orchard Park, N.Y., the suburb where the Bills and Colts played in effectively a snow globe and former Vikings playoff starter Joe Webb attempted six passes for Buffalo. The Bills won 13-7 in overtime as Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri missed two field goals.
Bills fans celebrated by chucking snow into the air. Some players, as Vikings punter (and holder) Ryan Quigley voiced, weren’t so thrilled. “Talk about worst-case scenario,” Quigley said. “Played in snow, but never that.”
Where’s Michael Floyd?
Receiver Michael Floyd has an incentive-laden contract — but he also has dwindling playing time. Floyd, who has nine catches for 78 yards this season, has played just 16 snaps in the past three games.
“It’s hard to get five receivers a lot of reps,” said Zimmer.