The Vikings Have Been Getting Some Horrendous Health News

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

Not too much has gone right for Minnesota, at least not when it comes to player health. The Vikings have continued the trend coming out of Week 16.

T.J. Hockenson and D.J. Wonnum had to leave the game over the weekend. Unfortunately, things are looking bleak when it comes to their ability to get back onto the football field during the remainder of the season. In fact, the best guess is that both players are moving into an offseason where some injury rehab will be needed.

The Vikings Have Been Struggling to Stay Healthy

Going into the game, Minnesota was going to be without the help of RT1 Brian O’Neill and CB1 Byron Murphy. Losing these players — especially when considering the long-term absences of guys like Kirk Cousins and Marcus Davenport — made things difficult.

Hockenson and Wonnum were being relied on as starters for the offense and defense. Each are 26, putting them in a perfect position for the GM’s competitive rebuild. And, most importantly, both have been putting together career-best seasons with their stats. The tight end is up to 95 catches, 960 yards, and 5 TDs; the pass rusher is up to 62 tackles, 8 sacks, and 7 TFLs.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) is carted off with an injury against the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, the word is that things are pretty bad with their injuries.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN gives the update on T.J. Hockenson: “Initial outlook is ‘not good’ on #Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson’s knee injury, per source. Team hoping to be surprised by today’s MRI but bracing for damage.”

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, things aren’t looking too much more optimistic for D.J. Wonnum.

Take a look at what ESPN had to say: “Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker D.J. Wonnum has a partially torn left quad and will likely need surgery, a source confirmed to ESPN on Monday. Wonnum’s hip flexor has remained intact, however, and he is seeking a second opinion, the source said.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) and Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) celebrate after a sack against the Washington Commanders during the third quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

At 7-8 and no longer in a playoff spot, the Vikings don’t have any margin left for error. They’ll need to overcome Green Bay in Week 17 and Detroit in Week 18 to have a chance of getting into the final tournament. Even picking up a pair of consecutive wins, though, leads to just that: a chance.

Over the past fives games, the Vikings have lost four times (W11/Denver, W12/Chicago, W15/Cincinnati, & W16/Detroit). The lone victory arrived in Week 14 in Las Vegas as the Vikings picked up the win by a score of 3-0.

Reversing the trend will need to arrive without the help of the TE1 and EDGE2. Wonnum’s injury is particularly unfortunate since he’s heading toward free agency. The pass rusher, quite possibly, played his final snap in a Vikings uniform.

Minnesota’s next game arrives on New Year’s Eve. The Packers will visit U.S. Bank Stadium. Both teams find themselves at 7-8 and desperately in need of a victory.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.