Vikings Unveil a Jumble of Good and Bad Health Updates Ahead of Saints Showdown

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Did the Vikings unveil anything particularly notable in the week’s final injury report? Yes and no.

Jaren Hall won’t be ready to roll, but you already had a hunch that the young fella would need more time to bounce back from his concussion. What was a touch more surprising, perhaps, is that a different offensive player — Mr. K.J. Osborn — has a chance at putting on the pads. He also suffered a head injury in Atlanta, but he is questionable.

Vikings OTAs
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) is congratulated by head coach Kevin O’Connell after scoring a touchdown against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

There are some other notable tidbits from the final injury report of the week. Defensive end Dean Lowry is unlikely to play as he continues nursing his groin injury; he’s doubtful. Linebacker Brian Asamoah, receiver K.J. Osborn, tight end T.J. Hockenson, receiver Justin Jefferson, and guard Chris Reed are all questionable.

Most encouraging of all? Minnesota’s exemplary left tackle, Christian Darrisaw, is nowhere to be found on the injury report. In other words, Darrisaw is locked and loaded a week after missing a game due to a groin injury. Harrison Smith, Johnny Mundt, and Jalen Nailor all had their names included previously but are all similarly absent from the final injury report.

Vikings Unveil Good and Bad Health Updates

Right off the top, the reality of the situation: Jefferson will almost certainly miss the Saints game.

Both Kevin O’Connell and Justin Jefferson met with the Minnesota media this week. The pair were consistent in their answers. At some point in 2023, the WR1 will get back on the field. However, the team and player are unified in their commitment toward ensuring that the hamstring injury is completely hamstrung before the return takes place.

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) stiff arms Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis III (24) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

What’s more encouraging is that Hockenson is likely to play — don’t respond too negatively to the questionable tag — while Osborn at least has a chance. There’s no one capable of filling the Jefferson-sized shoes in a true one-for-one capacity. The solution has thus involved leaning on a group of players to push the team’s offense higher. The TE1 and WR3 are critical parts of that plan, so seeing them on the field on Sunday would foreshadow good things for O’Connell’s crew.

Brian Flores has been doing a magnificent job of turning his defense around. Not having the veteran Lowry and (possibly) the sophomore Asamoah doesn’t help, but neither loss would be the death knell for the defense. Younger players at each position — rookie DT Jaquelin Roy and rookie LB Ivan Pace — have been proving throughout the season that they’re better options (at least in the present moment).

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) and linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Dean Lowry (94) react after a fumble recovery against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Still, lacking depth is always notable, especially for a Vikings team that is becoming all-too-familiar with the pitfalls of football’s physicality. It’s a rugged sport and players get hurt. What’s unusual is that the Vikings are dealing with a tidal wave of injuries all at once.

Unless the coaching staff is elite, the Vikings won’t be able to push for a playoff spot. Often, a team thrives due to superior talent. At other times, a team gets by because the coaches have instilled belief in the players, motivating them to push just a bit harder than the opposition. Cliché, yes, and yet there’s certainly some truth in there. Don’t forget that humans are still playing this sport, so factors like motivation, confidence, and swagger do matter.

And, of course, there are the brilliant play calls. O’Connell and Flores have done a really nice job calling these most recent games, a trend that needs to continue.

New Orleans won’t be a pushover, folks. Truth be told, I’m expecting a Saints victory. The emotional high of the Falcons victory threatens to take the wind out of Minnesota’s sails. Can they rally, digging deep to find the gusts they need to keep navigating the perilous, choppy waters?

Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell takes to wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a matchup game, so it’s fair to wonder if the Vikings have what it takes to matchup with a Saints offense boasting unique talent like Alvin Kamara, Taysom Hill, and Chris Olave. Meanwhile, the offense will be looking to overcome Marshon Lattimore, Demario Davis, Cameron Jordan, and Tyrann Mathieu. No small feat, especially with such a drain on the roster’s talent due to the recent injuries.

Kickoff will take place at 12 p.m. CST as Minnesota will look to defend the Bank. A victory would mean the Vikings are sitting at 6-4 after beginning the season with three strikes against.

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.