The Minnesota Vikings announced on Wednesday that defensive end Danielle Hunter will go on Injured Reserve as of today. Hunter is dealing with what Head Coach Mike Zimmer described as a “tweak” in his neck that has caused him to miss most of training camp when he sustained the injury on August 14th.
Due to COVID-19, the amount of time missed for going on IR is reduced to just three games. Hunter will miss the season opener this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, as well as Viking’s matchup against the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans at minimum. The earliest return that Hunter can make is October 4th in Houston, Texas, against the Texans.
Replacing Hunter’s production will be difficult as he has been one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. Hunter is coming off back to back Pro Bowl seasons, as well as back to back 15-sack seasons. There was a ton of excitement around Minnesota to see Hunter paired up with pro bowl defensive end, Yannick Ngakoue, who the Minnesota Vikings just recently acquired via trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars. It looks as though Vikings fans will have to wait at least a month to see the pair on the field together.
Over the past 2 seasons among Edges— PFF MIN Vikings (@PFF_Vikings) September 9, 2020
Danielle Hunter ranks:
➤ 1st in Pressures (154)
➤ 1st in Hurries (110)
➤ 1st in Tackles (85)
Linebacker Eric Kendricks told Matt Coller on Wednesday, “It’s going to be hard to replace a guy like that, but we have guys who are hungry and want to step up too.”
This is interesting… going back and transcribing Eric Kendricks today he said about Danielle Hunter: "it’s going to be hard to replace a guy like that but we have guys who are hungry and want to step up too."— Matthew Coller (@MatthewColler) September 9, 2020
Lined up to replace Hunter is defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo. Odenigbo is a seventh-round pick by the Vikings from the 2017 NFL Draft. Odenigbo did produce in his limited time on the field last season, registering seven sacks. That kind of production is not at the level of Hunter, but it is impressive for a backup.
The Minnesota Vikings have protected practice squad kicker Chase McLaughlin due to the injury.