Everson Griffen was on his way to the Vikings' practice facility on Thursday when a deer jumped out in front of him on the road. The veteran defensive end swerved his vehicle to avoid it and ended up with a concussion in the process, a freak accident that will keep him from playing in Arizona this week.
Griffen is one of four Vikings who will miss their Week 2 game against the Cardinals due to injury. Anthony Barr (knee) and Christian Darrisaw (groin) are out for a second straight game amid growing concerns about the timetable of their potential returns. Backup cornerback and key special teamer Harrison Hand (hamstring) is out as well.
Star linebacker Eric Kendricks (quad) is listed as questionable, but it sounds like Mike Zimmer expects him to play. "It's just a tweak," Zimmer said with a grin on Friday, referencing the Danielle Hunter situation from 2020 training camp.
Fellow linebacker Nick Vigil was limited with an ankle injury in the first two practices of the week, but he's not on the final injury report. So it'll be the same LB group as last week (Kendricks, Vigil, Blake Lynch) if Kendricks is able to play through the quad issue as expected.
Griffen played 28 snaps in Week 1 and recorded two pressures. He nearly took down Joe Burrow for a sack and later collapsed the pocket to help Michael Pierce record his second sack of the day. With Griffen out, expect Stephen Weatherly and Sheldon Richardson to see expanded roles on passing downs. Patrick Jones II is the leading candidate to be active as the No. 4 defensive end, but Kenny Willekes could also be elevated from the practice squad instead.
With no Hand, the Vikings will likely have Cameron Dantzler active for additional cornerback depth after he was a healthy scratch last week. Parry Nickerson is another practice squad elevation candidate due to his experience playing in the slot.
Darrisaw was never going to play in this game; he's still a ways away. It'll be Rashod Hill going against the Cardinals' Chandler Jones, who had five sacks last week.
Kickoff is at 3:05 p.m. central time in Arizona on Sunday.
Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis all season long. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.