MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks didn’t hang around U.S. Bank Stadium very long after the team’s 27-19 win over the New Orleans Saints, and with good reason.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said Monday team officials sent Hicks to a local hospital to be treated for a shin injury. He labeled it as "compartment syndrome." According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, compartment syndrome is a painful condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. It can decrease blood flow, which prevents nourishment and oxygen from reaching nerves and muscles.
Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency and can lead to permanent muscle damage. Chronic compartment syndrome is not usually an emergency and is reversible with rest. It’s not clear what level Hicks’ was. He was injured in the first half and spent several minutes in the medical tent before returning. He played some in the third quarter before leaving the game for good.
"He did need a procedure to address some of the complications from that direct trauma to his lower leg to relieve some pressure. Compartment syndrome, if not handled with the utmost level of concern, it could’ve been very serious," O’Connell said.
Hicks is unlikely to play Sunday night at Denver, and it’s a big loss for the Vikings’ defense. Hicks wears the green dot to call plays and pre-snap alignments. He’s also second on the team with 50 tackles, and was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a win at Carolina.
His absence means Ivan Pace Jr., an undrafted rookie free agent, will fill the spot and take on green dot duties. He did that in the preseason, but Hicks being out is a substantial loss. Until Sunday, Hicks had played every defensive snap this season.
"It's going to be a huge thing. I can’t even put into words how important he’s been to what we do on defense, how he’s communicated, played a ton of snaps for us and getting into calls, adjustments in games," O’Connell said. "Ivan Pace will handle the green dot duties and we’ll have a plan for what that looks like."
JUSTIN JEFFERSON UPDATE
O’Connell said Monday the Vikings will continue to ramp up wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The team opened his 21-day practice window to return from injured reserve. He’s missed five straight games with a hamstring injury, and the Vikings have managed to go 5-0 without one of the top players in football.
If he doesn’t return Sunday night at Denver, it’s more plausible he could return Nov. 27 for Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"Nobody wants to be out there more than Justin, maybe with the exception of me wanting him out there," O’Connell said. "We’re going to continue to be smart with Justin and know that when we do get him back, it’s going to be a major boost for us getting the best receiver in football back out there."
INJURIES PILE UP
The running back room is getting thin for the Vikings. Alexander Mattison left Sunday’s game with a concussion and is in the protocol. Cam Akers is out for the season with a torn Achilles. That leaves the healthy running backs as Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu, who combined for 54 yards on 17 carries Sunday. The Vikings brought back Myles Gaskin to the practice squad for depth on Monday.
Akayleb Evans left the game with a calf injury, and T.J. Hockenson played through rib and low back injuries.
O’Connell said they hope to open Nick Mullen’s window to practice this week. The No. 2 quarterback has been out with a back injury. Jaren Hall is likely to clear the concussion protocol, which means the Vikings could have three quarterbacks Sunday night at Denver. Josh Dobbs will get his second straight start.
"It’s been a few weeks since we’ve had three healthy quarterbacks available, so we’ll work through that throughout the week," O’Connell said.
VIKINGS BRINGING BACK ANTHONY BARR
With the injury to Hicks and needing depth at linebacker, the Vikings are turning to a familiar name. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Vikings are signing Anthony Barr.
A 2014 first round pick, Barr spent his first eight NFL seasons with the Vikings and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. He played in 14 games and got 10 starts with the Dallas Cowboys last season.