Vikings' Mike Zimmer won't coach against Cowboys; Mike Priefer is interim coach

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer won't be on the sidelines for Thursday night's game against the Cowboys, general manager Rick Spielman announced Thursday morning. Zimmer underwent emergency eye surgery Wednesday.

Special teams coach Mike Priefer will stand in for Zimmer. Priefer is in his sixth season as Vikings special teams coach, and it's his 15th season as an NFL assistant. He has never been a head coach at any level. Priefer was suspended in 2014 for three games after an independent investigation of the organization into claims by former punter Chris Kluwe showed that Priefer made a homophobic remark during the 2012 season.

The Vikings have two former NFL head coaches on staff -- interim offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and offensive line coach Tony Sparano. There's also this: Zimmer, who makes Minnesota's defensive play calls, will turn that duty over to defensive coordinator George Edwards.

Spielman said that Zimmer's "vision was becoming significantly worse" and that "it raised red flags," hence the decision for emergency surgery.

"Putting him out there tonight ... is not worth the risk," Spielman continued, via Chris Thomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. We're out long term for his health.''

According to the Associated Press, Zimmer initially scratched his eye during the Vikings' loss to the Bears on Halloween after experiencing issues with his vision a few days before the game. He had surgery to fix a torn retina in early November.

"It's probably a good thing that I scratched my eye during the game. Otherwise I may not have caught it in time," Zimmer said at the time. "But hopefully everything will be all right."

The 6-5 Vikings face their toughest test of the season when they host the 10-1 Cowboys. Minnesota is currently eighth in the six-team NFC playoff chase.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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