Vikings Skipper Points to Positive Health Developments for Several Key Players

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Good news, at least considering the circumstances.

Kevin O’Connell, the Vikings skipper, suggested that a speedy return to health is on the horizon for many of the team’s key players (presser link). Justin Jefferson is “day-to-day,” per the head coach. He has “a good chance” of playing against the Bengals. Seeing as how he was forced to leave the game and go to the hospital, the short-term nature of the injury is a wonderful development for Minnesota’s WR1.

At the very least, Jefferson should be ready for Week 16 when Minnesota begins their final three games of the year. All of them will occur against divisional foes.

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) warms up before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Brian O’Neill avoided a major injury, though the ankle ailment was significant enough to knock him out of the game. “We were able to avoid,” O’Connell explained, “a real long-term issue for Brian.” O’Connell did relay a positive assessment of the performance from David Quessenberry, who was the fill-in at right tackle.

The news didn’t stop there, though. O’Connell had plenty to say about other important players.

The Vikings Skipper Relays Some Positive Health Updates

Jordan Hicks isn’t far off from returning.

O’Connell insists that the veteran linebacker and team captain is ahead of schedule: “Jordan is probably ahead of schedule when considering the severity of what we felt in the immediate aftermath of his injury.” He then notes that the linebacker is “really close” to begin practicing.

For the season, Hicks is at 87 tackles.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) crosses the goal line for a 42-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

On offense, O’Connell thinks Ed Ingram could soon return. The starting right guard was questionable going into Week 14, so a return in Week 15 wouldn’t be particularly surprising. One good thing is simply that Blake Brandel played well in relief of the RG1, which is a sentiment that O’Connell shares.

Jalen Nailor remains in concussion protocol, further depleting the team’s receiver depth. On a more personal level, it’s tough news for the sophomore receiver. He has already missed time this season due to an IR trip. Getting him back was a needed boost for the receiver position and offense more broadly. The head coach is deferring to the team doctors to determine when Nailor can get back onto the field.

NFL: International Series-Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell (left) and wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) before an NFL International Series game against the New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Alexander Mattison had to leave the game. O’Connell thinks that the RB1 is on a similar timeline to O’Neill when it comes to recovering: “We’ll see how he progresses through the week.”

Basically anyone who has been following the Vikings knows that injuries have been a major issue. Somehow sitting at 7-6 and in full control of whether they make the playoffs speaks to the strong roster depth and the job the coaching staff has done.

The Vikings as an organization will be hoping that they don’t need to lean too heavily on their depth as they welcome back several key players for Week 15 in Cincinnati. Kickoff takes place on Saturday at 12 p.m. CST.

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.