Vikings back at practice after precautionary virus pause

The Minnesota Vikings reopened their headquarters for team activities on Thursday, following another morning of zero positive COVID-19 test results four days after playing a Tennessee Titans team that experienced the NFL’s first outbreak.

The Vikings announced their resumption of practice shortly after the league postponed Tennessee’s home game on Sunday against Pittsburgh. The Titans, who were hoping to be allowed back in their building early next week, have had confirmed cases in five players and seven members of the organization over the past five days.

Minnesota plays at Houston on Sunday, a game between two of the NFL’s six 0-3 teams that remains on track for now. Vikings coaches took their strategizing for the Texans home on Tuesday, which is already a day off for the players unless they need injury treatment. Then instead of taking the field to install the game plan for the week on Wednesday, players discussed it virtually with the coaches via video conference.

“You just roll with it and react to what you’re being told to do and get the work done still and do the best you can,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “It’s similar to how we approached much of the offseason program and training camp. I think it’s been handled well, and we’ll keep at it.”

The biggest burden of the interruption falls on coach Mike Zimmer and his staff.

“Trying to get our work done, trying to get our computers moved, trying to get all our stuff and our preparation ready for the players, it’s been a challenge,” offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said on Thursday before the team took the field at TCO Performance Center. “I’ll say this: The players have been great, Zim has found a way for us to get that done, and we’re catching up today. It’s just part of the process. I think everybody knew we were going to face some things like this this year, so you keep a positive attitude and you keep pushing through.”

The Vikings will continue to be short-handed on defense against Deshaun Watson and the Texans, with cornerback Mike Hughes (neck) still sidelined from practice after missing the previous game. Cornerback Cameron Dantzler (rib), who sat out the past two games, has returned to practice on a limited basis. Cornerback Kris Boyd (hamstring) has not missed any games but was limited on the field on Thursday.

The fact that Hughes has not been placed on injured reserve, which comes with only a three-week minimum stay this season, ought to be a promising sign for his return. Linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive end Danielle Hunter are already on injured reserve, along with backup linebacker Troy Dye and right guard Pat Elflein. Barr is done for the season, but the Vikings have not divulged any details about Hunter or whether he’s close to coming back. Elflein was working out with the team’s medical staff on a side field on Thursday, but Hunter was not present.

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