As the Vikings welcome back one key piece to the offense, another is heading out the door. On Wednesday, the team announced that they have placed wide receiver Adam Thielen on injured reserve. This comes after Chad Graff of The Athletic first reported that the veteran pass-catcher underwent surgery on his left ankle on Tuesday, which will put an end to his season.
Thielen returned to the field Sunday after he missed the previous two games due to a left ankle sprain. He aggravated it in that Week 16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams and has ultimately cut his regular-season short. Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network notes that Thielen is facing about a one-month recovery from this ankle surgery, so outside of a deep playoff run by the Vikings, his year is effectively over.
On the same day Thielen is being put on the shelf, the Vikings have activated running back Dalvin Cook from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Cook missed last week's loss to the Rams, but is eligible to return to the facility and begin preparing for what is shaping up to be a pivotal final two weeks of the regular season.
That loss to the Rams did drop the Vikings to 7-8 on the season with just two games left on the schedule as they trail both the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles by a game in the wild-card standings. Minnesota will travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 17 and then finish out the campaign at home with a game against the Chicago Bears, and will need to win out to keep those postseason hopes alive.
Ideally, having both Cook and Thielen in the fold would be a great boost to the offense as they make this push. After all, Thielen was able to catch 67 of his 95 targets for 726 yards and 10 touchdowns in his 13 games played this season. His receptions and receiving yard marks were second-most on the team, while he led the Vikings in receiving touchdowns. While they won't have his presence in the passing game, the return of Cook -- who has 1,067 rushing yards this season -- is a true difference-maker.