Minnesota Vikings’ reworked defense will miss a significant piece once the team takes the field in Week 1 against Green Bay Packers. According to NFL Network, Vikings placed Pro Bowl defensive end Danielle Hunter on the injured reserve list.
This means that Hunter is ruled out for the game vs. Packers and at least two more games. He will be eligible to return to the active roster in Week 4.
The Vikings didn’t detail Hunter’s placement on IR, but reports say that the 25-year-old player is dealing with a neck injury. Sources close to the situation indicate that the injury isn’t serious and that he shouldn’t be out for more than three weeks.
Hunter previously missed the majority of the training camp dealing with an undisclosed injury, although Vikings’ head coach Mike Zimmer downplayed the issues. In his talks with media, Zimmer said that the pass rusher is dealing with a “tweak” and was even optimistic about having him in the lineup for Week 1.
Danielle Hunter emerged as one of the Vikings’ most important players on defense in the past couple of years, posting 14.5 sacks seasons in both 2018 and 2019. Hunter racked up a total of 54.5 sacks since joining the team as a third-round pick in 2015 while also having 80 quarterback hits.
Luckily for Minnesota, the effects of Hunter’s absence might be alleviated thanks to the addition of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue from Jacksonville Jaguars. The team is also expected to give a more prominent role to Ifeadi Odenigbo, who is coming of a 7.0 sacks season in 2019.