Adam Thielen is back for the Minnesota Vikings.
The star wide receiver was activated off the COVID-19 list Wednesday, Dec. 2, and went through practice. He is in line to play Sunday against Jacksonville at U.S. Bank Stadium after missing one game.
Thielen was placed on the COVID-19 list Nov. 23 and sat out last Sunday’s 28-27 win over Carolina at U.S. Bank Stadium. In the last game he played, he had eight catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-28 home loss to Dallas.
“Great to have him back,’’ said quarterback Kirk Cousins. “He’s a top player on our team and in our league.’’
With Thielen out against the Panthers, he was replaced by Bisi Johnson, who had seven receptions for a team-high 74 yards. Johnson admitted Wednesday it has been “tough” not playing a lot this season but was happy to make the most of his chance.
“It felt great,’’ Johnson said. “In order to contribute to my team, to help us win, it was awesome.’’
The Vikings on Wednesday, as expected, also signed long snapper Andrew DePaola to the 53-man roster off the practice squad. DePaola beat out Austin Cutting for the job, and he looked good in the past two games after being elevated from the squad.
Cutting was waived Tuesday, and he cleared waivers Wednesday. A source said the Vikings want to sign him to the practice squad, but that it won’t happen this week. The move likely will occur later this month.
“He’s just done a nice job with the snaps,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of DePaola replacing Cutting. “We were having trouble, especially with the short snaps.”
The Vikings are now at the maximum of 53 players on the roster. They had been at 51 before the moves were made on Thielen and DePaola.
In another move, Minnesota signed cornerback Tae Hayes to the practice squad. The 5-foot-9, 188-pound Hayes played in five games with Jacksonville and Miami last year and this season, and he was released Nov. 23 from the Dolphins’ practice squad.
Vikings guard Ezra Cleveland, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, returned to practice Wednesday.
Tight end Irv Smith, however, remained out because of a back injury. He sat out last Sunday’s 28-27 win over Carolina with back and groin injuries, and has missed two of the past three games.
Also not practicing Wednesday were defensive end D.J. Wonnum (ankle/back), punter Britton Colquitt (not injury related) and tackle Rashod Hill (not injury related).
Listed as limited were Cleveland, running back Dalvin Cook (ankle) and guard-center Brett Jones. When Cleveland was out, he was replaced as the starting right guard by Jones.
If Smith can’t play Sunday against Jacksonville, the Vikings have one more elevation available for practice-squad tight end Brandon Dillon, who was protected this week and has been elevated for each of the games Smith has missed. Teams are allowed two standard elevations per season. But Dillon’s first didn’t count, on Nov. 16 at Chicago, since he was a COVID-19 replacement.
Kendricks looking good
After the Vikings selected linebacker Eric Kendricks in the second round of the 2015 draft out of UCLA, he entered the NFL with a specific goal.
“I’m trying to be the best, you know what I mean?’’ Kendricks said. “That’s been my goal since I went to college. I went to college, and I wanted to be the best linebacker there was in the NFL, even when I was in college.’’
Kendricks last season was named first-team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl. He’s currently ranked by Pro Football Focus as the NFL’s third-best linebacker.
“What’s there not to like (about Kendricks)?’’ said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone. “The guy makes (plays) sideline to sideline. He’s got really great instincts. He can shed blockers. He can play well in coverage. … You’ve got to make sure that you get someone on Kendricks from an offensive standpoint or he’s going to make the tackle.’’
• Justin Jefferson needs 82 yards Sunday to become just the second Vikings rookie to have 1,000 yards receiving. Randy Moss had 1,313 in 1998.
• Zimmer is pleased with how second-year cornerback Kris Boyd has looked lately. “He played a lot better (against Carolina),” he said. “He’s a talented kid that is physical.”
• NFL Draft Diamonds reported that Minnesota will work out offensive lineman Zack Bailey, who was undrafted in 2019 out of South Carolina and initially signed with Tampa Bay.