MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Vikings have won four straight games and five of their last six to improve to 5-4 after an 0-3 start, while their quarterback situation remains a work in progress.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell confirmed Monday that Josh Dobbs will get the first-team reps at quarterback and is in line to start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Jaren Hall exited Sunday’s win late in the first quarter, during his first career start, after taking a big hit just short of the goal line, trying to scramble for a touchdown.
Hall immediately went to the medical tent, then to the locker room and was ruled out with a concussion. In his place, Dobbs accounted for 224 total yards and three touchdowns in a 31-28 win at Atlanta. After just five days with the team, Dobbs led a game-winning touchdown drive that started with 2:08 on the clock, two timeouts and the two-minute warning. He led the Vikings 75 yards, capped by hitting Brandon Powell for a short touchdown with 22 seconds to play.
So what can Dobbs do with a week to practice, and get to know his new team?
"We can shape a game plan around what he really does best, which are a lot of different things. It’s going to be exciting for our coaching staff getting to spend a little bit more time with him, and him around his teammates learning everybody’s names and making sure he’s ready to go," O'Connell said.
The problem now is the Vikings are beat up after a physical game against the Falcons. Here are Monday's injury updates:
- Cam Akers is out for the season after suffering a torn Achilles, marking the second straight week a Vikings’ player suffered the injury. Last week, Kirk Cousins’s season came to a close after tearing his right Achilles.
- Hall is in the concussion protocol.
- K.J. Osborn is in the concussion protocol.
- Christian Darrisaw and Dean Lowry missed Sunday's game with groin injuries, and will be limited this week.
- T.J. Hockenson battled a rib injury during the fourth quarter and will be limited this week after making seven catches for 69 yards.
With Hall in the concussion protocol, O'Connell has a problem. If Dobbs gets hurt Sunday, who plays quarterback? Nick Mullens is eligible to come off IR, but O'Connell isn't sure if he'll be ready to return from a back injury. Cousins is out for the season. Sean Mannion is on the practice squad.
O'Connell confirmed Monday Akers was the emergency quarterback if Dobbs got hurt, but now he's out for the year. So what will they do?
"That scenario was in the back of my mind every time we snapped the ball of what that would’ve looked like. I’d rather not talk about it right now. We’ll have a process where we figure that out," O'Connell said.
He joked that he would play if the NFL would let him.
"Unless that quarterback could be me… Maybe they would let me steal some pads and a helmet and sneak out there," O'Connell said. "That might have been a level of adversity that even our organization right now would’ve needed to find a miracle there."
WILL JUSTIN JEFFERSON RETURN SUNDAY?
The Vikings host the Saints on Sunday, and it could mark the return of Justin Jefferson. The star receiver is eligible to come off injured reserve this week if he’s deemed healthy enough. Jefferson has been out with a hamstring injury, and the Vikings have managed to go 4-0 in his absence.
Before getting injured, Jefferson had 36 catches for 571 yards and three touchdowns in five games. O’Connell talked about Jefferson’s status Monday.
"We’re working through that," O’Connell said. "Justin has done a phenomenal job in his rehab. He’s still been a part of meetings, he’s mentally in it. It’s possible we’ll open up his window on Wednesday, but we’re going to do what’s best for Justin and make sure that we’re doing everything responsibly to make sure that when Justin does return, he can be the Justin Jefferson we all know and expect to see out there."