Vikings DE Danielle Hunter placed on IR, will miss at least first 3 games

The Minnesota Vikings will be without one of their star defensive players for at least the first three games of the 2020 season after defensive end Danielle Hunter was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday.

Hunter will miss at least Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, Week 2 at the Indianapolis Colts and Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans. The earliest Hunter can return is Week 4, Oct. 4 at the Houston Texans.

The Vikings started preparations on Wednesday for Week 1 against the Packers, and Hunter did not go through the team’s practice at TCO Performance Center.

According to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, Hunter did not go through team stretching and came out on the practice field with Mark Uyeyama, the team’s director of competition development, to do isolated rehab while the rest of the team did individual drills.

Hunter had gone through team stretching at a few practices late last week, but has not practiced since Aug. 17. The Vikings will release their first injury report of the season on Wednesday, so that should shed light on what Hunter is battling.

On Monday, head coach Mike Zimmer didn’t know of Hunter would practice or play on Sunday against the Packers.

“We hope so, we’ll just have to see,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer said early in Training Camp Hunter suffered a “little tweak” and recently said “sometimes things take a little longer” to heal, but he wasn’t overly concerned.

Because the Vikings listed Hunter on the IR, they don’t have to disclose what he’s dealing with on the injury report. According to Cronin, the injury is related to his neck.

Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks may have inadvertently revealed Wednesday that Hunter’s playing status is in doubt.

“A guy like Danielle, he brings a whole other type of game in and it’s going to be hard to replace a guy like that. We have guys that also are hungry and want to step up too,” Kendricks said.

Hunter earned his second straight Pro Bowl appearance last year after getting 14.5 sacks, 15 tackles for a loss and forcing three fumbles. He became the fastest player in NFL history to at least 50 career sacks in his first five seasons. He has 54.5 sacks, and pairing with Yannick Ngakoue, they’re expected to be one of the top defensive end duos in the NFL this season.

Hunter’s absence will make life difficult for the Vikings’ defense, which features a young secondary, against Aaron Rodgers.

With Hunter out, Ifeadi Odenigbo would be next in line to start at defensive end. Odenigbo played in 16 games last year, getting seven sacks and 23 tackles.

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