Vikings reportedly preparing to drive Zimmer to next game, that's if he goes at all

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.--Just when you think the injury bug couldn't bite any deeper into the Minnesota Vikings, there's a crunching sound and someone else drops.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.-Just when you think the injury bug couldn't bite any deeper into the Minnesota Vikings, there's a crunching sound and someone else drops.

On Wednesday night, that someone was head coach Mike Zimmer. A month of ignoring what's best for the health of his right eye after two surgeries to repair a detached retina, Zimmer lost vision in the eye before the team's Thursday night home game against Dallas. He was taken to the hospital, where an emergency third procedure was performed.

The Vikings scrambled, naming special teams coordinator Mike Priefer interim head coach for Thursday only. Zimmer was ordered to stay home and was told he couldn't watch the game but could listen on the radio.

And yet the Vikings aren't ruling Zimmer out for the team's next game, a road trip to Jacksonville a week from Sunday. Zimmer's regular day-after press conference for Friday was cancelled and the team has no media access until Tuesday.

Whether it's Zimmer, Priefer or someone else-offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and offensive line coach Tony Sparano have NFL head coaching experience-is uncertain at this point. Spielman said the Vikings will reassess the situation as early as Friday.


"We have to see how his eye responds to that surgery," Spielman said.

NBC reported that the team has a contingency plan for someone to possibly drive Zimmer to Jacksonville if he's unable to fly because of the pressure that would put on the eye.

Jacksonville is 1,472 miles from the Twin Cities. But Zimmer is an old-school coach of a team that's 1-6 since having the league's last undefeated record of 5-0.

Against the league's hottest and best team in the Dallas Cowboys, the Vikings played defensively without their signal-caller, but struggled offensively in the red zone and muffed a punt inside their 10-yard line while falling to 6-6 with a 17-15 loss at U.S. Bank Stadium.

"As hard-headed and as tough-minded as he is, we had some pretty significant talks one-on-one, heart-to-heart about what is important in life and what isn't," said general manager Rick Spielman, who hired Zimmer in 2014. "Potentially going blind in one eye is not worth coaching a game in the NFL. You have to look out for your long-term health. That's the number one thing everyone's worried about."

Yes, it has been an odd and injury-riddled season. It began eight days before the opener when franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a gruesome freak non-contact knee injury dropping back to pass in practice. Adrian Peterson, a parade of offensive linemen and a head coach have followed.

Now, with four games left, who knows what the injury bug has in store next.

NOTES: C Joe Berger (concussion) had a streak of 37 consecutive starts snapped. He was replaced by second-year pro Nick Easton, who was acquired as part of the Gerald Hodges trade with the San Francisco 49ers last year. Easton, who played most of the Detroit game the week before after Berger was hurt, held his own in the middle and could be the team's center of the future. ... TE Kyle Rudolph was targeted 12 times, catching six passes for 45 yards. With 54 catches for 513 yards, he set career highs in both categories. ... WR Stefon Diggs returned from missing the Lions game with a knee injury to catch a game-high eight passes for 59 yards. He showed no effects of the injury. ... PR Marcus Sherels (rib) missed his second straight game. The underrated shifty returner with the two touchdown returns this season is sorely missed. WR Adam Thielen muffed a fourth-quarter punt for a four-yard loss and a turnover inside his 10-yard line. The Cowboys scored on an eight-yard touchdown on the next play to take the lead for good. ... DE Danielle Hunter's second two-sack game of the season moved him ahead of Jim Marshall on the team's list of players with the most sacks through two seasons. Hunter has 15 1/2 to rank fifth. Jared Allen leads the way with 29 (2008-09).

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