On Saturday, November 5, the Vikings elevated wide receiver Dan Chisena and tight end Nick Muse from the practice squad to active status. The moves were necessitated by an illness that will sideline wideout Jalen Nailor for at least this week’s game, and an ankle injury to Irv Smith Jr. that could knock him out for the remainder of the season and may mark the end of his career in Minnesota.
Chisena will potentially see his first offensive snaps of the year as the team’s fifth option at receiver, after serving the previous two years as a regular contributor on special teams. He played 11 offensive snaps in 2021 and has appeared in 35% of the the Vikings’ special teams plays thus far in 2022.
Minnesota selected Muse in the seventh-round of this year’s NFL Draft out of the University of South Carolina. The rookie has yet to see an offensive snap in his career, appearing in one game and playing six snaps on special teams against the Chicago Bears in Week 5. Muse will assume the role of third-string tight end behind Johnny Mundt and the team’s newest addition, T.J. Hockenson.
Vikings Have Avoided Injuries as Well as Any NFL Team This Season
The Vikings are unquestionably among the NFC’s elite teams this season, though good injury luck has helped them in this regard.
Minnesota avoided the injury bug for the most part until its Week 8 victory over the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday, October 30. The aforementioned Smith is expected to miss 8-10 weeks with his ankle issue and has been relegated to the IR for the time being. He has a chance to make it back by the end of the regular season or potentially the playoffs after beginning the year as the Vikings’ top pass-catching option at the position.
The team will also be without its starting defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson against the Commanders, who will miss the game with a calf injury he suffered against Arizona. Head coach Kevin O’Connell described Tomlinson as “week to week” moving forward. The big man is a big loss for the Vikings on the defensive interior, as Pro Football Focus currently ranks him 18th out of 126 players qualifying at the position.
Starting cornerback Cameron Dantzler is questionable with a neck injury, while edge rusher Za’Darius Smith and wideout Adam Thielen are each expected to go despite being listed on the Vikings’ injury report with knee problems.
Vikings in Prime Position to Win NFC North, Earn High Playoff Seed
The Vikings (6-1) currently own a 3.5-game lead in the division and reside in second place in the NFC with a chance to hold onto that spot, or even elevate to the No. 1 seed, by the time the playoffs roll around. Paramount to the team’s success, however, is winning in Washington this weekend.
The schedule toughens up for the Vikings significantly down the stretch and their bye week is now behind them. Following the road contest against the Commanders, Minnesota faces back-to-back games against the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys. The team will also play the New York Jets and the New York Giants later in the season, both of which hold winning records and would be bound for the playoffs if the postseason started today.
The Vikings finish up the year on the road against division rivals in the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. While both teams have struggled to losing records this season, NFC North road games always present significant challenges. Furthermore, the Packers could still be competing for a Wildcard berth in Week 17, which would make them an even more dangerous matchup.
Washington is no slouch at 4-4, but remains a team Minnesota should beat. The Vikings need to win every game they are supposed to win, and probably one or two they aren’t, to put themselves in prime position to make a run for the Super Bowl.