MINNEAPOLIS— Vikings nose tackle Michael Pierce did not practice Wednesday due to an elbow injury and his status for Sunday’s game against Detroit is uncertain.
Also not practicing were running back Dalvin Cook (ankle), linebacker Nick Vigil (ankle) and wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (toe), who sat out last Sunday’s 14-7 loss to Cleveland.
Cook, who played against the Browns after sitting out one game, said before the practice he planned to play against the Lions and he likely was rested Wednesday as a precautionary measure.
Vigil has started the first four games as an every-down linebacker in place of Anthony Barr, who is expected to play on Sunday for the after missing the first four games due to a knee injury. Barr for the first time this season was a full practice participant Wednesday.
Pierce was hurt in the third quarter against the Browns and did not return. He had a MRI on Monday, but results have not been released.
“We’ll have to just see how the week goes,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said about whether Pierce will play against the Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium.
If Pierce is out, he likely would be replaced by Armon Watts, who played the bulk of the snaps at nose tackle after Pierce was hurt against Cleveland. Zimmer said he would not anticipate moving Dalvin Tomlinson, a former nose tackle, from three-technique defensive tackle.
“I feel very comfortable with (Watts) and giving James Lynch a chance to play if (Pierce) can’t play, so I feel comfortable with my group and don’t have any concerns about it,’’ said co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson.
Lynch was inactive for the first four games. Patterson said he would have “all kinds of options” if Pierce can’t play since he has all his interior linemen learn to play nose tackle and three-technique. He noted that Tomlinson did play “eight to 10 plays” at nose tackle against the Browns.
Full participants in practice were cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and Kris Boyd. Breeland played just the first six defensive snaps against the Browns due to an illness. And Boyd missed the game because of a hamstring injury.
Depth at cornerback still could be an issue for the Vikings since backups Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand are on the COVID-19 reserve list. Dantzler, after being placed on the list Monday, tweeted that he is vaccinated and would be back soon. Zimmer declined to confirm that and said the COVID situation in the secondary is “a concern.”
“(Bill) Parcells said, ‘We need six on campus all the time,’’’ Zimmer said of his coaching mentor having said that about the need to have a lot of cornerbacks. “So I think that’s part of it. They get dinged, they get soft-tissue injuries, COVID. He didn’t know about that. … He sees the future a lot, but not that.’’
Chisena back on roster
The Vikings’ special teams got a potential boost when the team activated wide receiver Dan Chisena off injured reserve.
Chisena, who is Minnesota’s gunner on the punt team and plays important roles on other special teams, was placed on injured reserve at the start of the season with an unspecified injury. After missing the required minimum of three games, he was designated for return last week but was not activated for the game against the Browns.
Patterson said he has no plans to change the role of defensive end Everson Griffen, who returned to the team in August as a situational pass rusher and as a backup to D.J. Wonnum.
“I’ve got to get (Griffen) through 17 games,’’ Patterson said. “I’ve still got to keep in my mind that he’s 33 years old. … His role is going to remain the same.’’
Griffen played a season-high 43 snaps against the Browns. He missed one game due to a concussion and averaged 31 snaps in the other two he played.
Spielman vs Spielman
Sunday’s game will feature a front-office matchup of brothers Rick and Chris Spielman. Rick long has been Minnesota’s general manager and Chris is in his first season as Detroit’s special assistant to the owner and the president.
“That will be very fun,’’ said former NFL defensive tackle Henry Thomas, who played for the Vikings from 1987-94 and was a teammate of Chris Spielman on the Lions in 1995. “They’re a close-knit family but very competitive.”
Rick and Chris both declined interview requests.
Campbell was interviewed
Lions coach Dan Campbell, then a New Orleans assistant, was interviewed by Zimmer for Minnesota’s offensive coordinator job in January 2018.
“I liked the things they were doing offensively in New Orleans and I knew what kind of person he was,’’ Zimmer said. “I knew he’s dedicated and hard-working and tough.’’
Zimmer ended up hiring John DeFilippo, who was fired with three games left in 2018.