Adam Thielen

Adam Thielen To Play Through Ankle Injury

Despite suffering an injury this week in practice, Adam Thielen will play against the 49ers. The Vikings have declared him active for their divisional-round game, but it sounds like the Pro Bowl wide receiver will play through some pain.

Thielen suffered a “deep laceration” near his ankle and heel area, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk reports. The Vikings plan to numb the area, tape up the injury and hope their standout wideout can play through any discomfort. The 29-year-old receiver expressed confidence earlier Saturday he will be able to play through this malady (Instagram link).

This injury occurred early this week in practice, with Smith indicating a Vikings teammate’s cleat cut through Thielen’s shoe to cause the laceration — one that required four stitches. No Achilles damage occurred. But this continues an injury-marred season for Thielen, who saw his two-year Pro Bowl run halt.

The former rookie-tryout success story missed five full games with a hamstring injury but missed most of two more because of that malady. However, he came through with one of the biggest Vikings catches this century to cap a seven-reception, 129-yard performance in an overtime win over the Saints.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Thielen, Panthers, Falcons, Raiders

Vikings WR Adam Thielen suffered a bad cut on his ankle during Wednesday’s practice, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). The cut required stitches, but the team is optimistic that he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s playoff game against the 49ers. As the reporter notes, the organization is “still gathering information and will proceed with caution.”

The wideout appeared in 10 games this season – the first time in his NFL career that he didn’t appear in all 16 regular season contests. He finished the regular season with 30 receptions for 418 yards and six scores. He had a standout game during the Vikings win over the Saints last weekend, hauling in seven receptions for 129 yards.

If Thielen was forced out of the lineup, Kirk Cousins will predictably lean on wideout Stefon Diggs. The team could also turn to the likes of Olabisi Johnson, Alexander Hollins, and Laquon Treadwell.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Panthers general manager Marty Hurney will turn to head coach Matt Rhule as the team continues to rebuild the front office. Hurney told The Athletic’s Joe Person (Twitter link) that he’ll collaborate with Rhule as the organization hunts for an assistance GM. The executive cautioned that the search could take some time.
  • The Falcons will hire Joe Whitt Jr. for a defensive position on the coaching staff, reports ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. Whitt Jr. previously served as the Browns pass-game coordinator/secondary coach, and he was Atlanata’s assistant defensive backs coach back in 2007. It’s uncertain what specific role Whitt Jr. will take on under defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
  • Vic Tafur of The Athletic opines that the Raiders should add a playmaking wideout this offseason, and he notes that the organization “really like[s]” one impending free agent: Jets receiver Robby Anderson. Current Raiders senior offensive assistant John Morton was the Jets offensive coordinator when Anderson had his most productive season in 2017.

Injury Notes: Ingram, 49ers, Thielen, Fuller

With every team booked into divisional-round action having now begun practice, here is the latest from the injury front going into Round 2. We’ll start with a midweek Vikings setback:

  • Stefon Diggs has missed two Vikings practices because of illness this week, but Mike Zimmer expects him to suit up in San Francisco. However, Adam Thielen suffered an ankle injury at practice and was limited on Wednesday as a result. Thielen was not on Minnesota’s Tuesday injury report. The Pro Bowl wideout missed much of this season with a hamstring injury. He caught seven passes for a game-high 129 yards against the Saints.
  • The NFL’s other purple-wearing team will likely go into its second-round game with backfield uncertainty. Previously expected to return for the Ravens‘ playoff opener, Mark Ingram has missed both Ravens practices this week. Ingram experienced a setback with his injured calf last week, leading to the Ravens to shut him down for a bit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The Ravens are indicating there is a “realistic chance” Ingram plays. Baltimore backup Gus Edwards‘ 5.2 yards per carry ranked third in the NFL this season.
  • 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander has been cleared for game action, per Rapoport (video link), meaning it’s now Kyle Shanahan‘s call on whether to redeploy the high-priced defender Saturday. The 49ers used their second IR-return spot on Alexander, who is attempting to return from a midseason pectoral tear, but have not activated him yet.
  • Winding down an oft-injured season, Dee Ford is back at 49ers practice and appears ready to return at a key juncture. The veteran defensive end has dealt with a few maladies, his most recent being a hamstring issue that he aggravated in December. Ford’s gone through limited practices the past two days.
  • One of the NFL’s most important No. 2 wideouts, Will Fuller is trending in the right direction for the Texans‘ divisional-round rematch in Kansas City. The Texans expect their deep threat to return against the Chiefs, Rapoport tweets. Fuller was limited Wednesday. Deshaun Watson‘s QBR figure is 16 points higher when Fuller is on the field compared to when he’s not. The injury-prone wideout missed six games this season, the latest because of the groin injury he sustained in December.
  • Among the healthiest of the divisional-round teams, the Packers will have their right tackle back in the mix. Bryan Bulaga suffered a concussion in Week 17 but passed the protocol Wednesday, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Kenny Clark, however, missed practice with a back injury. The contract-year defensive lineman played all 16 Packer games this season.

Injury Updates: Thielen, Moreau, Andrews, Guice, Chark

Here are the latest injury updates from around the league as you enjoy Sunday Night Football:

  • Adam Thielen missed another game with his hamstring issue Sunday, but he should be back out there soon. “All parties are optimistic” that the Vikings will have their star receiver when they play a pivotal Week 15 game against the Chargers, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Thielen has only played eight games this season, and in two of those he played only a handful of snaps.
  • The Raiders have been pretty banged up recently, and they took another blow during their crucial loss to the Titans. Tight end Foster Moreau went down with a knee injury, and Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said after the game he could be done for the season. Moreau doesn’t play a huge role as a pass-catcher, but he has had a couple of big games and has been playing around half of the team’s offensive snaps.
  • Ravens fans were left holding their breath when breakout tight end Mark Andrews left their victory over the Bills and didn’t return, but fortunately it doesn’t appear to be anything too serious. Andrews suffered a contusion between his knee and thigh a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, and the “indication is it’s nothing major” (Twitter link). That’s good news, but Baltimore does have a short week with a Thursday Night Football game against the Jets waiting. It wouldn’t be surprising if Andrews misses that one, but it doesn’t sound like it’ll be a longterm absence.
  • Derrius Guice has had brutal injury luck so far in his young NFL career, so it was terrible to see the Redskins running back go down with another knee issue during their loss to the Packers. Fortunately it seems like he might’ve dodged a bullet, as Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets that the initial diagnosis is an MCL sprain. It seems like Guice could miss some time and potentially the rest of the season, but fortunately it doesn’t appear to be anything long-term. Guice missed his entire rookie season due to a torn ACL that resulted in multiple infections, and then missed the first eight games of this season with a knee injury.
  • The Jaguars have been getting embarrassed weekly recently, and now things are getting even worse. On the heels of their 45-10 blowout loss to the Chargers, it looks like they could be without top receiver D.J. Chark moving forward. Chark left the game with an ankle injury, and his “left foot was in a protective boot and he left the locker room using a scooter” after the game, tweets Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. Chark has been having a breakout year and has 881 yards with eight touchdowns, and it now seems like his sophomore campaign could be over.

We’ll have more on all the other big injuries suffered today as soon as there are additional details to pass along.

Vikings Rule Out Adam Thielen

The Vikings are expected to promote wide receiver Alexander Hollins from the practice squad, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The undrafted rookie out of Eastern Illinois gives them four healthy receivers tonight against the Seahawks, as Adam Thielen remains out with a hamstring injury. 

Hollins, a 6’1″ target, joined the Vikings’ taxi squad shortly after missing the final cut in late August. At Eastern Illinois, Hollins ended his collegiate career with 127 career receptions, good for tenth on the program’s all-time list. In his final year, he had five games with 100 yards receiving, including a 167-yard breakout against Indiana State.

Thielen, meanwhile, has not seen double-digit snaps since Week 6. Due to his nagging injury, Thielen will see his 1,000-yard streak end after two exceptional seasons, though he hopes to be back in action to help the Vikings in the playoff hunt. As of today, the Vikings have a 90% chance of reaching the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight, with a 42% chance of winning the NFC North. A win over the Seahawks would bring them to 10-3 and virtually solidify their spot in the postseason.

In eight games this year, Thielen has 27 catches for 391 yards and six scores.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Robinson, Thielen, Browns

Allen Robinson sounds confident the he and the Bears will discuss an extension at some point. The sixth-year wide receiver has enjoyed his best season since 2015, averaging 70.8 yards per game and having become the Bears’ most reliable skill-position player. The 27-year-old wideout sounds willing to wait, however. He is signed through the 2020 season.

My focus is just to finish the season strong, and I am sure at some point in time whether it’s my agent starting it or them, it will be talked about,” Robinson said, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “There is a good amount of time. So many different scenarios can play out. The time will come.”

Although no guaranteed money remains on Robinson’s three-year, $42MM deal, he is set to earn $10.9MM in base salary next season and is certainly not at risk of being released.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Adam Thielen‘s last game featuring double-digit snaps came in Week 6, but the Vikings‘ highest-paid skill-position player is trending in a better direction for Monday night’s game. Battling a hamstring injury, Thielen returned to practice Friday and got in two limited workouts this week. He does not expect to be a game-time decision, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter), so the Vikings (and certain fantasy owners) may have some advance notice. Thielen will see his 1,000-yard streak likely stop after two seasons, but the 29-year-old standout is certainly pivotal to Minnesota’s hopes at winning the NFC North.
  • This will not be the week David Njoku returns to the Browns’ skill-position arsenal. The Browns did not activate their top tight end by Saturday afternoon’s deadline, so he will miss another game. With Njoku having returned to practice on Nov. 20, the Browns do not have to activate him until Dec. 10. If Njoku is not activated by then, he will spend the rest of the season on IR. The third-year tight end underwent surgery for a broken wrist during his IR stay.
  • Cleveland will be without left tackle Greg Robinson as well. The oft-scrutinized former No. 2 overall pick did not practice this week and will remain in concussion protocol through Week 13. Kyle Murphy started for Robinson at left tackle when he was benched earlier this year. The Browns, however, gave the sixth-year blocker his job back soon after.
  • Yet another Andre Smith stint with the Bengals will come to an end. The winless team waived the veteran tackle on Saturday.

Vikings Activate Josh Doctson

The Vikings have activated wide receiver Josh Doctson, per a club announcement. The former first-round pick could be in line to make his season debut on Sunday with Adam Thielen out for yet another week. 

The Vikings signed Doctson towards the end of August, shortly after cutting Laquon Treadwell, who was taken one spot behind him in the 2016 draft. Treadwell has since returned to Minnesota, meaning that the two may actually take the field together.

Doctson’s next game with Minnesota will be his first in purple – at least, his first in Vikings purple. Before joining the Vikings, Doctson started 26 games across the previous two years for the Redskins, but registered just 79 total catches for 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns. Last year, he placed 96th out of 107 qualifying wideouts in yards per route run last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Those numbers aren’t great, but the potential is still there. His history with quarterback Kirk Cousins may also help.

Besides Doctson, Treadwell, and the injured Thielen, the Vikings also currently have wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Olabisi Johnson in the mix.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Vikings, Conner, JuJu, Lions

The 2017 draft class will become extension-eligible in January, and Dalvin Cook‘s contract figures to be one the key talking points once the calendar flips to the 2020 offseason. The Vikings are one of the few teams to have paid a running back top-market money, via Adrian Peterson‘s $14.4MM-AAV pact from 2011. With Cook’s contract not containing a fifth-year option like Christian McCaffrey‘s does, the Vikings will likely have to address his deal sooner than the Panthers will need to negotiate with their All-Pro candidate. Ezekiel Elliott‘s $15MM-per-year deal represents the new running back benchmark. Although Cook has been injury-prone, he will surely seek a contract in the Elliott-Todd GurleyLe’Veon BellDavid Johnson tax bracket (north of $13MM annually).

Running backs are valuable,” Cook said, via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin. “For guys to get rewarded for how physical, how much they get their bodies ready each and every week to go take that pounding, guys [are] getting rewarded for that. The running back value kind of went down, but I think we’re just as valuable as any position.”

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Adam Thielen will not play Sunday night. The Vikings ruled out their highest-paid wide receiver for Week 10’s Cowboys contest. Thielen has dealt with this hamstring injury since Week 7, missing Minnesota’s game against the Redskins and exiting last week’s Chiefs game after seven snaps.
  • One of Cook’s 2017 draft classmates, James Conner, will also need at least another week to recover from injury. The Steelers ruled out Conner for Week 10. They also added JuJu Smith-Schuster to this week’s injury report Friday. Pittsburgh’s top wideout is questionable to face the Rams with a toe injury.
  • Lions safety Miles Killebrew suffered a concussion during Thursday’s practice, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes. The Lions moved Killebrew to linebacker last year, but the trade of Quandre Diggs and Tracy Walker‘s knee injury prompted the team to shift Killebrew back to safety recently. UFA addition Tavon Wilson, third-round rookie Will Harris and rookie UDFA C.J. Moore are the Lions’ only healthy safeties. Killebrew and Walker are out for Sunday’s Bears tilt
  • The Lions’ two-year extension for Christian Jones features a short-term sacrifice for a 2020 payment. The deal reduces the linebacker’s 2019 salary from $2.45MM to the veteran minimum, which will be worth approximately $426K for the season’s remainder. In exchange, Jones will receive a $1.97MM signing bonus, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com tweets. The through-2021 deal averages $2.92MM. Detroit tacked on a voidable 2022 year, in order to spread the bonus across three seasons instead of two.

Injury Updates: Bengals, Vikes, Cards, Jets

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had been expected to return to game action in Week 10 against the Ravens, and head coach Zac Taylor even confirmed as much this morning, per Paul Dehner of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Green didn’t practice Wednesday after experiencing ankle swelling during Cincinnati’s walkthrough and is now considered day-to-day, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, so it’s unclear if Green will still be ready for Baltimore. Green hasn’t played a single snap this year after suffering ankle damage during the preseason. When he does return, he’ll be catching passes from a new quarterback (rookie Ryan Finley) as he makes his case for an extension.

Here’s more on the injury front:

  • Adam Thielen returned to action last Sunday following a hamstring injury-induced absence and quickly re-aggravated the ailment, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer disputes that Thielen came back too quickly, tweets Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. While it’s not apparent if Thielen will play against the Cowboys in Week 10, it doesn’t appear the veteran wideout is dealing with a long-term injury. Minnesota faces Denver in Week 11 before heading to its bye, so the Vikings could conceivably take an overly-cautious approach and hold Thielen out until Week 13, although that could be difficult to do given the tight NFC playoff race.
  • Cardinals running back David Johnson has missed the past two games with back and ankle injuries, but he says he’ll “definitely” be playing when Arizona faces off with Tampa Bay this week, per Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com (Twitter link). With both Johnson and backup Chase Edmonds facing health questions, the Cardinals shipped a conditional sixth-round pick to the Dolphins for Kenyan Drake, who proceeded to rush for 110 yards against the 49ers in Week 9.
  • Le’Veon Bell did not suffer any structural damage to his knee in the fourth quarter of a Week 9 loss to the Dolphins, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. While Bell didn’t practice on Wednesday, he is expected to be ready when the Jets face the Colts on Sunday. Gang Green did promote running back Josh Adams from its practice squad earlier this week, but that move was likely executed as a fail-safe against a possible Bell absence.
  • Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett left Week 9 after incurring a left MCL strain, but he was able to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com. That news should at least give Brissett a chance to play against the Dolphins on Sunday, although head coach Frank Reich noted it’s not a “slam dunk” that Brissett is available. Indianapolis would turn to veteran backup Brian Hoyer in Brissett’s absence.

Injury Updates: Brissett, Conner, Thielen

The Colts have been having a surprisingly strong season after Andrew Luck retired, but everyone in Indy was left holding their breath when Jacoby Brissett went down with a knee injury. After the game, head coach Frank Reich said it was a sprain that was “MCL-ish.” Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like Brissett tore anything. Quarterbacks can usually play through MCL sprains, so it doesn’t sound like Brissett will be on the shelf too long. Brian Hoyer filled in and had the Colts in position to win the game late, but Adam Vinatieri missed a 43-yard kick with a minute to go.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Steelers rookie running back Benny Snell had surgery to trim his meniscus recently and will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Snell was a fourth-round pick back in April. Speaking of Pittsburgh’s backfield, starter James Conner didn’t suit up against the Colts today, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that he’s in danger of missing next week’s game against the Rams. For now, Jaylen Samuels will continue to gobble up most of the snaps.
  • Standout rookie UDFA Preston Williams suffered a knee injury, casting a damper on the Dolphins’ first win of the season. Despite going undrafted Williams has become a key player for Miami, starting all of their games thus far. The injury is a “sprained knee and the hope is that it’s not more serious,” tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. We should know more about the severity soon. Williams had five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Jets before going down.
  • Vikings receiver Adam Thielen returned after a one-game absence due to a hamstring injury, and quickly re-aggravated it. He didn’t return to Minnesota’s loss to Kansas City, and while there’s no word yet on the severity, hamstring issues can linger. They’ll likely be more cautious about rushing their star receiver back this time.