As the calendar turns towards November, every NFL team is dealing with injuries. While it’s tempting to get your star players back on the field as quickly as possible, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. The Minnesota Vikings are taking that platitude to heart and keeping wide receiver Adam Thielen out of Thursday night’s game against the Washington Redskins.
While it’s always disappointing to go into a game without a star player, the Vikings are making the right move by keeping Thielen on the sidelines.
Adam Thielen’s injury
After getting off to a rocky start to the season, the Minnesota Vikings game has been running on all cylinders. Things hit a snag last weekend when Adam Thielen was forced to leave the game with an apparent injury.
The receiver hurt his right hamstring while scoring a touchdown, but didn’t seem too concerned about the injury. An MRI revealed there was no significant damage to the muscle, and Thielen said he “felt great” during the week. Despite that, the Vikings decided to play it safe and hold him out of Thursday night’s game. That will end the receiver’s streak of 87 consecutive games played.
“As a competitor, as an athlete, you want to play,” Thielen said. “You want to be out there to be able to help your team win.”
The Vikings’ offensive attack
Beyond Adam Thielen’s longterm health, there’s another factor that presumably played into the Vikings’ decision: they shouldn’t need him on Thursday.
Ever since the public criticism of quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Vikings offense has kicked into high gear. While they haven’t abandoned their strong ground game, they’ve used it to compliment Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Running back Dalvin Cook forces other teams to pack the box, giving the receivers room to run over the top off of play-action.
Last weekend, Minnesota scored four straight touchdowns after the receiver went off injured; tonight shouldn’t be any different. Even if head coach Mike Zimmer plays it conservatively and keeps the ball on the ground tonight, the Vikings should have more than enough talent to overpower the weak Washington Redskins defense. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece worthy of NFL Films; at this point of the season, you just need to warn the win and move on.
Playing the long game
Given the ease of tonight’s game, the Vikings’ priority will be ensuring Adam Thielen is healthy down the stretch. There’s no risk re-aggravating his hamstring when there are bigger games on the horizon.
After this date with Washington, the Vikings will visit the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys; they’ll then play the Denver Broncos and go on bye before returning to action in Week 13. Minnesota will then finish the schedule with three divisional match-ups in their last five games.
As of now, the Vikings are sitting in the sixth NFC playoff spot, one game behind the Green Bay Packers. Given how tightly packed the conference is, not to mention the difficulty of the NFC North, every game down the stretch will take on extra importance. With a win against Washington looking like a safe bet, the priority is making sure Adam Thielen is healthy for those upcoming contests.