Dalvin Cook, Rashod Hill injuries not considered serious, but both were knocked out of Packers game
The Vikings believe they escaped serious injuries when both right tackle Rashod Hill and running back Dalvin Cook were forced from the Packers game in the second half of Sunday’s 29-29 tie at Lambeau Field. Hill did not return after apparently injuring his right ankle in the third quarter. Cook pointed to muscle fatigue as his issue.
He gained 90 yards on 13 touches before he went down on the first drive of overtime after he was hit on a 1-yard carry. The team announced he injured his hamstring, which Cook said afterward was “fine.”
“It’s good. Just fatigue,” Cook said. “It was hot out there.”
Coach Mike Zimmer didn’t appear too concerned about Hill, either.
“I don’t think it’s serious,” Zimmer said.
Rookie Brian O’Neill made his NFL debut on offense by stepping in for Hill to play the rest of the second half and overtime. O’Neill, the second-round pick, said things moved too quickly to think long about his debut or the rollercoaster ending that featured six fourth-quarter scores and two missed field goals in overtime.
“To be honest, I didn’t really have a second to think about it,” O’Neill said. “I was just trying to give the best protection I could on the field goal or give everything I could on each individual play.”
Punt returner Marcus Sherels also left the game with a chest injury. The veteran was slow to get up after his only return for 13 yards in the second quarter.
Slot corner Mackensie Alexander’s return wasn’t a full one, since the third-year corner was yanked in the third quarter by Zimmer after Alexander surrendered a third-down conversion, 34-yard pass to Packers tight end Jimmy Graham. Alexander, who’d also been flagged on an earlier third down, ended up ceding some reps to rookie Mike Hughes.
Alexander reentered the game when Zimmer later pulled starter Trae Waynes after he missed a tackle that led to a 22-yard gain by Packers receiver Geronimo Allison. Zimmer admitted the carousel came about because of busted coverages.
“A little bit, yeah,” Zimmer said. “We turned the tight end loose twice when the quarterback was holding the ball, and we looked back and the guy went up. It’s simple stuff.”
Officiating remains a focus
Zimmer and Vikings players came away confused by how Sunday’s game was officiated. Roughing the passer remained a focus with a penalty apiece against the Packers and Vikings. Zimmer lamented Packers offensive linemen holding his pass rushers. Defensive end Danielle Hunter said he was befuddled by how pushing a Packers running back was called for defensive holding in the fourth quarter.
Eric Kendricks was flagged for roughing Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after landing on him while Rodgers threw an incompletion, a clear enforcement of the NFL’s emphasis outlawing landing on quarterbacks.
“I don’t really know what to do anymore,” Kendricks said. “I thought he had the ball the whole time. I thought I had a sack.”
Receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen combined for 21 catches and 259 yards against the Packers, the most production from the Vikings’ duo since they combined for 271 yards against the Buccaneers last season.
Each receiver made a play to cap the Vikings’ comeback. Thielen caught the 22-yard touchdown between two Packers defenders near the end of regulation. Then Diggs shook his defender and got open for the two-point conversion leading to overtime.
“I was just trying to not show my hands so they couldn’t put their hands up and knock it down,” Thielen said. “It just shows how accurate Kirk can be, especially in those critical situations.”