Vikings Could Get Major Boost in Time for Christmas

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On Christmas Eve, the Minnesota Vikings will host the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions, a game that could possibly decide a temporary hold on the division, depending on the outcome of Week 15.

Encouragingly, the Vikings could receive a boost for that contest — the potential return of veteran linebacker Jordan Hicks.

Vikings Could Get Major Boost in Time for Christmas

Hicks was injured in a win over the New Orleans Saints one month ago, and undrafted rookie linebacker Ivan Pace slid into a full-time role accordingly. Troy Dye and Anthony Barr have manned other linebacking snaps during Hicks’ absence. Pace, in particular, has continued to take the league by storm in Year One.

Vikings Could Get Major
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Compartment syndrome sidelined Hicks, and The Cleveland Clinic describes that in this way:

Compartment syndrome is a painful condition, with muscle pressure reaching dangerous levels. Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency, usually caused by trauma, like a car accident or broken bone. Chronic (or exertional) compartment syndrome is caused by intense, repetitive exercise and usually stops with rest or changes in routine.

It’s a dangerous condition, so Hicks’ impending return so soon is remarkable.

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Head coach Kevin O’Connell said this week about Hicks’ comeback, “Jordan is probably ahead of schedule when considering the severity of what we felt in the immediate aftermath of his injury.”

The Vikings’ defense hasn’t relented in Hicks’ absence, now ranking fifth leaguewide per EPA/Play. In fact, last weekend at the Las Vegas Raiders, Minnesota pitched a shutout, its first since 2017.

Brian Flores Weighs
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“So where he’s at now is very, very positive, and I think Jordan’s getting really close to maybe being able to start officially practicing,” O’Connell added.

Minnesota’s defense fundamentally turned around following a shoddy start and hit its groove after losing to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3. Hicks’ performance was a central part of the about-face. In fact, when Hicks hit injured reserve, the Vikings began losing again, dropping back-to-back matchups to the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears. Minnesota’s woes in those two losses were mostly on offense, but if Hicks can return, the defense will only continue its stellar improvement.

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Hicks said this week about his recovery, “Every day is different. You try to come in, make the milestones and so far, so good. Trying to make it as quick of a timeline as possible, but we’re taking it one day, one step at a time. Just really trying to push to come back.”

Pro Football Focus considers Hicks the NFL’s 16th-best linebacker through 14 weeks with a 76.7 grade.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by