Vikings’ Adam Thielen reinjures ankle after returning to play vs. Rams

Anthony Barr intercepts Matthew Stafford twice.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) runs after a catch against Los Angeles Rams free safety Taylor Rapp (24) during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Thielen was hurt on the play and left the game, but would return.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Three weeks after suffering a left high ankle sprain, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen was back on the field Sunday. It was an abbreviated return.

In Minnesota’s 30-23 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium, Thielen reinjured his ankle late in the second quarter and was in obvious pain. He sat out the rest of the first half and returned for the second half. But after making one more catch early in the third quarter to run his game total to three receptions for 40 yards, he was done for the day.

“He was hurting,” fellow receiver Justin Jefferson said. “I just know how much he wants to be out there, wants to play with the guys, be a big role in this offense.”

Thielen was injured Dec. 5 at Detroit and missed the next two games, victories over Pittsburgh and Chicago. He worked hard on his treatment to get ready for Sunday’s game, knowing the importance of it in the playoff race.

Thielen, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, looked like his old self when he caught a 25-yard pass across the middle midway through the first quarter. But he was in obvious pain after catching a 9-yard pass with 2:38 left in the first half, and he was attended to on the field before limping off.


Thielen was not made available to the media after the game. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he didn’t know about Thielen’s injury status moving forward.

“Even when he’s hurt, he’s still coaching us, still trying to keep our energy up, still just being that leader on the team,” Jefferson said.

Thielen on Friday was listed as questionable for the game. Fullback C.J. Ham (hamstring) also was listed as questionable, and played the full game.

COVID list
Before Sunday’s game, the Vikings placed backup quarterback Sean Mannion and reserve tackle Rashod Hill on their COVID-19 reserve list.

Zimmer said Mannion “was sick” but didn’t provide any other details. With Mannion out, Vikings rookie Kellen Mond was active for the first time in his career, but he did not play.

Mannion is fully vaccinated. Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is not vaccinated, was asked about Mannion going on the COVID list.

“It just is what it is,” Cousins said. “At this point, you just have to follow the protocols, be disciplined, and there’s a lot of people not testing. So it’s in our building. It’s going to be in our building. It’s going to spread. We’ve just got to be disciplined, to keep our distance and make sure that to the best of our ability we don’t get it. But it’s going to be difficult.”

On Thursday, ruled running back Dalvin Cook out for Sunday’s game after he went on the COVID list. Cook is unvaccinated.


Barr’s picks
Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr entered Sunday’s game with three interceptions in 95 career games. Against the Rams, he had two.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr (55) directs the defense against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium. Barr had two interceptions in the game.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports

In the second quarter, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an ill-advised pass right to Barr, who returned it three yards to the Rams’ 11. In the third quarter, Stafford had a short pass deep in his own territory tipped at the line by Vikings defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and picked off by Barr, who returned it eight yards to the 2.

“One, he threw right to me and one was tipped,” said Barr, who didn’t have much to say about the interceptions following the loss.

The Vikings were held to a field goal after Barr’s first interception and scored a touchdown after the second one.

Kendricks fined
Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks was fined $10,300 by the NFL following his ejection last Monday at Chicago.

Kendricks was fined for unnecessary roughness after being penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Bears quarterback Justin Fields in the fourth quarter. He was ejected after the play. Kendricks said he didn’t mean to hurt Fields, who was giving himself up on a slide, and that the penalty was warranted but the ejection was “harsh.”

Cousins was listed as limited in practice last Wednesday due to a rib injury before being a full participant on Thursday and Friday. He said his injury was not a factor Sunday. “It didn’t impact me,” he said. “I felt fine.” … Jefferson, who had eight catches for 116 yards, said his matchup with Rams star cornerback Jalen Ramsey “went pretty good.” Leading up to the game, Jefferson said he “circled” the matchup and called it a “statement game.” … With Mason Cole (elbow) going on the injured reserve Friday, Oli Udoh started at right guard. Udoh started the first 11 games this season at the spot. … Minnesota’s only inactive player was wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

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