Perhaps nothing has been a bigger story so far this year or effected the Minnesota Vikings as much as the insane amount of injuries sustained by members of the purple and gold.
They currently lead the NFC North in injured personnel with 15 players listed as questionable or worse (10 on offense). The Lions have 14 out, the Packers are currently at 12, and the Bears at 8.
Courtesy of Spotrac, the Vikings have 8 players currently listed as on IR. Since Justin Jefferson has yet to return to be activated, he still counts towards that total. That puts the Vikings in the middle of the pack with the god forsaken New York Giants leading while listing a whopping 15 players on the IR - including their top two quarterbacks.
The same data also states Minnesota has 17.14% of their cap tied up on players that are on the Injured Reserve - 5th most in the league. Every team 4 spots above and below them has 10 or more players on IR.
Obviously, not every injury is created equal. Things will get a tad objective here, but there is a great argument to be made that the Vikings have had more injuries occur to their most influential players than any other team in the league.
The Vikes’ quarterback room right now is in absolute shambles and easily the most effected QB group out of any team this season... Especially considering both the quality of talent effected and quantity of injuries.
The only Vikings QB not to be listed as out or on IR is a QB that is new to them as of just over a week ago, Joshua Dobbs, who’s arrival was forced due to injury concerns.
He is the only uninjured QB on the active roster as of Friday morning, with Sean Mannion not having been officially activated from the practice squad just yet, per Vikings.com. Mannion will likely be activated as Hall is officially listed as out on Friday’s final injury report.
Obviously no NFL team hopes to have a situation like this on their hands, but the Vikings had more reason than most not to be too worried about it going into the season: QB1 Kirk Cousins had not suffered an injury that kept him from playing since suffering a sprained ankle in 2009 (while playing at Michigan State), a stretch of 14 years, before popping his Achilles against the Packers.
Even before looking at the rest of the team, it feels as if Vikings QBs have had just had some seriously bad luck. Cousins’ injury was non-contact and Mullens seemingly injured his back in practice.
Rookie Jaren Hall’s injury could have theoretically been avoided after going dead-red for the end zone in his second career drive, getting stuffed by a nasty double head contact hit (helmet to helmet and then back of the head to the turf).
There are some that may argue, given the fragility of the depth chart, that he shouldn’t have been so aggressive, but he saw a chance to score and he took it - can’t fault him for that.
Compounding the QB-related injury problem is a WR room that has also been thoroughly worked by the injury bug.
Obviously it is exciting to see Justin Jefferson recover enough to be designated as ready to return from the IR, but that status does not mean he is out of the woods yet. There is no rush to get him back on the field either, with the receiver and his head coach stating that he will not even attempt to come back if he is not 100%... It’s a pretty safe bet he will not be playing in Minneapolis come Sunday.
KJ Osborn’s concussion last week was likely the single scariest injury of the year so far for the Vikings, especially judging the reactions of players from both teams. It was an unquestionably dangerous and irresponsible hit by Atlanta’s Jeff Okudah and Dee Alford, compounded by Osborn awkwardly juggling the ball while coming down with the catch.
The good news is that Osborn was upgraded to questionable yesterday, and while likely doubtful for Sunday as he is still in limited practice, it is good to see it wasn’t quite as bad as it looked.
It is also worth noting that Jalen Nailor is hopeful to play on Sunday after returning off the IR on Sunday, and Jordan Addison has been an absolute revelation. Brandon Powell and Trishton Jackson both had confidence-inspiring games in Atlanta and look to offer headaches for the Saints secondary on Sunday.
TJ Hockenson remains limited after suffering some more rib damage on Sunday in Atlanta. It isn’t the first time Hockenson played through an injury this year, suffering a minor foot injury against the San Fransisco 49ers in addition to the normal bumps and bruises. He hopes to play on Sunday.
The thoroughness of the injury bug has not been limited to just those offensive players involved in the passing game... Although the RB room was unscathed up until last week.
Cam Akers became the second Viking to tear his Achilles in two weeks during a non-contact play when he backpedalled onto his left leg. His season is done. The injury is extra-tragic for Akers, who is going through this for the second time in his career - he missed the 2021 regular season after suffering a right achilles tear before that season.
He miraculously recovered in time for the Rams’ Super Bowl run, but there is no chance he will see the field again at any point this season.
Super bummed for Cam Akers suffering another Achilles injury.— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) November 6, 2023
In his honor, let's all watch him pancake a defensive lineman who's 70 pounds heavier than him and then let him know about it afterwards. pic.twitter.com/bqkyFoAi5T
The Vikings will roll with: RB1 Alexander Mattison, RB2 Ty Chandler (who has been getting increased reps) and RB3 Kene Nwangwu.
Nwangwu missed the start of the season while recovering from a back injury suffered in training camp, but is a full participant in practice without an injury designation and suited up against the San Francisco 49ers, returning two kicks for 41 yards. He then missed the Green Bay Packers game with an illness and was a healthy scratch last week.
While it certainly hasn’t been this ideal since the start of the year, the offensive line is holding its own again in regards to it’s injury status.
Christian Darrisaw was a HUGE miss last week in Atlanta but is now back to full participation, with the team elevating him from questionable status on Friday. He’ll go on Sunday, which should make life significantly easier for Dobbs and whoever is running the ball.
Garret Bradbury started the year with what had to be a very frustrating back injury, seemingly originally sustained during the last game of last year. Bradbury seems to be back up to speed and cooking since returning against Kansas City.
Next week we’ll take a look at the injuries on the defensive side of the ball.