Dalvin Cook took over the game and left just 14 pass attempts for Kirk Cousins — three of which Thielen caught for 27 yards. But when the lead was narrowing late in the game and Kris Boyd became the third cornerback to exit the game with an injury with 3:15 left in the fourth quarter, Thielen said he was “definitely ready” to play defense.
“I told the coaches and I was making sure I was tuned into the defensive play calls,” Thielen said on KFAN, per Vikings Territory’s Sean Borman.
The Vikings opted to move Josh Metellus to safety and Anthony Harris to slot corner, but a wide receiver joining his teams’ defense isn’t unheard of. Randy Moss had an interception with the New England Patriots in 2009 when defending against a first-half Hail Mary by the Denver Broncos’ Kyle Orton.
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Vikings Nearly Ran Out of Corners on Sunday
With third-year corners Mike Hughes and Holton Hill out, The Vikings entered the game shorthanded at cornerback.
In-game injuries further depleted the cornerback corps as third-round rookie Cameron Dantzler left the game at the end of the first quarter with a head injury and Mark Fields suffered a punctured lung in the third quarter. Boyd’s injury in the fourth quarter left just two healthy cornerbacks on the sidelines in first-round rookie Jeff Gladney and fifth-rounder Harrison Hand.
Gladney played all 75 defensive snaps as he’s proven to be the team’s top cornerback through eight weeks. Boyd (57), Hand (29) and Fields (21) all reached career highs in snaps in an encouraging game for the unit that weathered Aaron Rodgers’ 41 pass attempts, however, the group could remain thin this week against the Detroit Lions.
Few Reinforcements Remaining
Hughes and Fields are already ruled out for next week. Hughes remains on the injured reserve list, while Fields is expected to miss two to three weeks with a punctured lung injury.
Hill and Boyd have a chance to play against the Lions dependant on their participation this week in practice, while Dantzler awaits the results of his concussion screening.
Former Arizona Cardinals and Lions cornerback Chris Jones will likely dress on Sunday’s game against his former team after he was acquired last week. Jones, undergoing coronavirus protocol, did not practice all last week, leaving him inactive against the Packers.
The Vikings also signed Marcus Sayles to the practice squad last week. Sayles helped the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup and was signed by the Vikings in January before he was cut during training camp.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.