Thielen misses another Vikings practice, is questionable vs. Bears

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  • Adam Thielen
    Adam Thielen
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Klint Kubiak
    American-football player (1987-)
  • Dede Westbrook
    Dede Westbrook
    American football player

The Vikings are holding out hope receiver Adam Thielen's sprained left ankle will allow him to return on Monday night in Chicago.

But Thielen did not practice this week, sitting out Friday's walkthrough after going through warmups on a taped ankle. He's officially listed questionable against the Bears. Coordinator Klint Kubiak said they're "counting" on Thielen, though his availability might come down to a game-time call. He's missed the past two games since he was tackled low Nov. 28 in San Francisco, but is expected to travel with the team to Soldier Field.

If Thielen misses a third straight game, receiver K.J. Osborn would draw another start and rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette could be the No. 3 receiver. Receiver Dede Westbrook remained quarantined on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Saturday afternoon.

"He's always been very talented," Zimmer said of Smith-Marsette, the fifth-round pick. "He's starting to get better at understanding the nuances of the game as far as where to lineup, how to run routes, how to set up defenders."

Left tackle Christian Darrisaw will make his return from an ankle injury suffered against the 49ers last month. The first-round rookie was replaced against the Lions and Steelers by Oli Udoh, who could be headed to the bench as one of the NFL's most-penalized players with Darrisaw returning.

Zimmer stopped short of declaring the team's plans, but he made it sound like coaches would keep Garrett Bradbury at center and Mason Cole at right guard.

Udoh "feels more comfortable at tackle" than guard, according to Zimmer, indicating the team's experiment with Udoh at right guard has concluded. He started the first 11 games there before Darrisaw's injury led to a return to tackle, Udoh's original position.

"It happens a little fast at guard," Zimmer said. "He's got such great athleticism and size, and really good physicality. He's a really smart kid, so he's been able to [move around]. But he does feel more comfortable at tackle."

The Bears ruled out left tackle Jason Peters (ankle) and both of their top slot defenders, Xavier Crawford (concussion) and DeAndre Houston-Carson (forearm). Receiver Marquise Goodwin (foot) is doubtful. Linebacker Roquan Smith (hamstring) and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (ankle) are questionable.

COVID clear?

In a win for both teams before kickoff, neither the Vikings nor the Bears had additional positive COVID cases among players on Saturday. Zimmer wasn't optimistic about any of his six quarantined players, including Westbrook and running back Alexander Mattison, returning before Monday night. But two of the three isolated strength and conditioning assistants were cleared to return on Saturday.

"Hopefully [senior assistant Paul] Guenther can get back before the game," Zimmer said. "I don't think we've had anybody come back before at least eight days [away] so far."

The Bears returned one player from COVID isolation on Saturday — nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who is eligible to play against the Vikings. Chicago still has 12 players isolated, including receiver Allen Robinson and safety Eddie Jackson.

Etc.

Before Monday night's kickoff, the Bears will recognize Zimmer's alma mater, Lockport (Ill.) High School, and coach George Czart after they won an Illinois state championship this fall. Zimmer played quarterback for Lockport under his father, Bill, in the early 1970s. Cornerback Kris Boyd was fined $4,874 by the NFL for the taunting penalty in the Dec. 9 win over Pittsburgh. Boyd stood over Steelers receiver James Washington after a tackle for a loss.

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