Dalvin Cook out, Adam Thielen returns for Vikings against L.A. Rams

Adam Thielen #19 of the Minnesota Vikings makes a second quarter touchdown reception against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Santa Clara, California.  ((Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Vikings host the L.A. Rams at noon in a critical game for their NFC Playoff hopes, and they’ll get one critical piece of the offense back while they already knew they’d be without another.

Dalvin Cook is out for Sunday’s game after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week. He has been following protocols all season for non-vaccinated players, and is out at least 10 days. There’s a chance he could return in time to face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Jan. 2, which would be 11 days after going on the list.

Wide receiver Adam Thielen is active after missing the last two weeks with an ankle injury suffered after his first catch in the loss to the Lions at Ford Field. With Cook out, getting Thielen back with Justin Jefferson is critical for the Vikings’ offense. In 12 games so far, Thielen has 64 catches for 686 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Fullback C.J. Ham is also active after being listed as questionable heading into Sunday's game. He'll be the lead blocker for Alexander Mattison and Kene Nwangwu, who will share running back duties with Cook out.

The Vikings will be without Co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Andre Patterson, who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. No. 2 quarterback Sean Mannion, and offensive lineman Rashod Hill went on the COVID-19 list Sunday morning. It means rookie quarterback Kellen Mond is active for the first time this season, and would be the back-up quarterback if Kirk Cousins gets injured.

The Vikings enter Sunday’s game 7-7 and in the No. 7 spot in the NFC Playoffs. They need to win their last three games to lock up a playoff spot. The Rams lead the NFC West at 10-4 by a half game over the Arizona Cardinals, and are in Minneapolis on a short week after having played Tuesday night. The Rams are on a three-game win streak.