Thielen, Cleveland, Irv Smith Jr. among Vikings out Sunday against Panthers

Adam Thielen #19 of the Minnesota Vikings catches a touchdown pass against Anthony Brown #30 of the Dallas Cowboys in the third quarter during their game at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 22, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ((Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Vikings will be without Adam Thielen, Ezra Cleveland, Irv Smith Jr. and Austin Cutting among others when they host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Thielen was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, a day after catching two touchdowns in Minnesota’s 31-28 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Thielen leads the NFL with 11 touchdown catches through 10 games, and became the first Viking since Randy Moss in 2003 to catch at least 10 touchdowns through 10 games. He either tested positive for COVID-19, or came in close contact with a carrier and has been in quarantine ever since.

Cleveland will miss his second straight game with an ankle injury suffered in Minnesota’s 19-13 win at Chicago on Monday Night Football. Smith will miss his second game in the last three weeks with a groin injury.

Cutting, a long snapper on special teams, is also out for the second straight week. It means Andrew DePaola will take snapping duties for the second straight week.

Thielen is missing his first game of the season. With Thielen and Smith out, it likely means more duties in the passing game for Kyle Rudolph, Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe. The three have a combined 34 catches for 431 yards and one touchdown.

It’s a pivotal game for the Vikings, whose loss to Dallas put them at 4-6 on the season with six games to play, shrinking already slim hopes of staying in the NFC Playoff conversation.