The Vikings will be without three defensive starters and one offensive starter when they play in what is essentially a must-win game Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) and defensive tackle Michael Pierce (elbow) have been ruled out, while safety Harrison Smith and center Garrett Bradbury will each miss a second consecutive game on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Defensive lineman Kenny Willekes has also been added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list, and head coach Mike Zimmer said Friday that it's possible that more players could be added to the list after being considered close contacts.
The six players who have been placed on the COVID list since Nov. 4 are:
- Dakota Dozier
- Garrett Bradbury
- Harrison Smith
- Kenny Willekes
- Ryan Connelly
- Timon Parris
Meanwhile, the player who was hospitalized after experiencing breathing trouble from COVID-19 – the player has been identified by numerous media members as offensive guard Dakota Dozier – is doing better but was still hospitalized as of Thursday night, according to Zimmer.
Zimmer also said that unvaccinated teammates who have seen what Dozier is going through probably aren't going to change their mind about getting the vaccine.
"I know that they care about him," said Zimmer. "I don't think it changes their opinions, if that's what you're asking. The guys that didn't get vaccinated probably aren't getting vaccinated. He [Dozier] was vaccinated anyway. It's serious stuff."
Cornerback Baushaud Breeland is questionable for Sunday's game with a groin injury.
Throw in the fact that Danielle Hunter is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle and Patrick Peterson remains on injured reserve and the Vikings defense is going to be without four players who began the season as starters.
The Vikings and Chargers kick off from L.A. at 3:05 p.m. Sunday.