Report: Vikings DE Danielle Hunter unlikely to come off IR next week

Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints is pursued by Danielle Hunter #99 of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 05, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. ((Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images))

Danielle Hunter is eligible to come off injured reserve next week, but it doesn’t sound like that will happen any time soon.

According to an NFL Network report, Hunter has been dealing with a herniated disc in his neck. Hunter did not practice in the final two weeks of Vikings training camp, and coach Mike Zimmer said at the time he had a “little tweak.”

While it's not feared to be a season-ending injury, it's unlikely Hunter will be back next week as the Vikings will face the Houston Texans.

Without Hunter, the Vikings have had a tough time defensively in an 0-2 start to the season. They allowed more than 500 yards of total offense, including 364 yards and four touchdowns from Aaron Rogers, in a 43-34 Week 1 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Last week, Minnesota allowed 158 yards rushing, and 214 yards and a touchdown from Philip Rivers in a 28-11 loss to the Colts.

Hunter had 14.5 sacks last year and thrived off creating pressure on the quarterback. He’s the fastest in NFL history to at least 50 career sacks in his first five seasons. It’s worth wondering if Hunter will play at all this season, especially if the losses keep piling up for the Vikings.

To complicate matters for Zimmer and Minnesota’s defense, linebacker Anthony Barr is out for the season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle last week. The Vikings will also be without Cameron Dantzler and Mike Hughes on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. Dantzler has a rib injury, and Hughes has a neck injury.

The Vikings announced Sunday morning they'll have 250 staff and family at U.S. Bank Stadium for the game against the Titans. It's an effort to test COVID-19 safety protocols in the event they can have fans at future home games this season. Current state guidlines allow for a maximum capacity of 250 people at indoor gatherings.