Coach Zimmer Says He “Expects” Danielle Hunter to Play Week One

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Star defensive end, Danielle Hunter, has missed practice since August 16th. Hunter disappeared for about a week, and according to Coach Zimmer, he is nursing a “little tweak”. However, Zimmer did not disclose anymore information like the tweak’s location or how long Hunter would be out.

Hunter DID begin showing up to practice, but he stood on the sidelines without any pads or helmets on. Since then, he has begun stretching with the team and conducting rehab exercises. The Vikings still are not leaving any hints as to what has been keeping him sidelined, though.

The young star has been a force to be reckoned with when healthy. He set the record for most sacks before turning 25 last year when he recorded his 46th, and he currently sits at 54.5 for his career. He recorded his second consecutive year of 14.5 sacks in 2019.

While the fact that Hunter has still been unable to practice is troubling, there are some positive takeaways.

One, Zimmer seems to remain positive that Hunter will be available to play. This may just be a decoy to keep the Packers on edge, but I don’t think it is. That’s because the second positive takeaway here is that Hunter IS rehabbing whatever is bugging him. It would be much more disheartening if he were just stretching and then watching practice from the sidelines.

The third takeaway is even if Hunter is unable to go on Sunday, the Vikings won’t be left unprepared. I know, less optimistic, but hear me out. Ifeadi Odenigbo may not have been a Danielle Hunter last year, but he had a good year opposite Hunter on the defensive end last season. Odenigbo recorded 7 sacks and played all 16 games in 2019. He has been reduced to a backup role after the acquisition of Yannick Ngakoue, but he is more than capable of filling in Hunter’s shoes for a game or two if necessary.

Whatever the issue has been, we should know the full severity after the Vikings release their first injury report on Wednesday.