VIKINGS NOTEBOOK: Darrisaw back at practice in no-contact jersey, ruled out Sunday
Vikings will receive reinforcements Sunday with Tomlinson, Evans set to play
EAGAN, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings left tackle Christian Darrisaw was ruled out Friday for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, but it was an encouraging day for him.
Darrisaw, who suffered two concussions in November, wore a red no-contact jersey and was able to practice on a limited basis. That seemingly would increase his chances of returning Dec. 11 at Detroit.
“He is progressing well,” said Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell, who didn’t want to put a timetable on when Darrisaw could return.
Darrisaw suffered a concussion Nov. 13 at Buffalo and returned to play against Dallas on Nov. 20 before suffering another concussion. He sat out the Nov. 24 game against New England, and against the Jets will be replaced by Blake Brandel for the second straight game.
“I definitely think you build confidence with the more reps you get,” Brandel said of facing the Jets, who are No. 4 in the NFL in total defense. “They’ve got a really good front and it’s going to be a challenge.”
The Vikings also ruled out tight end Ben Ellefson (groin) for Sunday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium. They listed as questionable defensive lineman Ross Blacklock (illness), who sat out practices Thursday and Friday, but O’Connell said he has been “significantly improving.”
On Sunday, starting defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson will back for the Vikings after missing four games with a calf injury and rookie cornerback Akayleb Evans will return after sitting out two games with a concussion. O’Connell said Evans will start, and he’s looking forward to it.
“I’m very excited every time I get on the field,” Evans said. “I want to make an impact in the game, so I feel like I now have another opportunity to do that.”
Evans called it “definitely tough” sitting out after being hurt at Buffalo. He said he had a “little bit of a neck issue” after his concussion, which resulted in him being out the two games.
“Last week was a short week and it was more of a precaution,” Evans said of the Thanksgiving game against the Patriots. “If it would have been a normal week, I feel I would have been able to play.”
The Jets listed as out safety Ashtyn Davis (hamstring), as doubtful running back Michael Carter (ankle) and tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (groin, illness) and as questionable tackle Duane Brown (shoulder).
Zoom call with Cousins
Lil’ Kirk in Chains will be returning for Sunday’s game. The Vikings will leave tickets for Lincoln Gustafson and his family. Gustafson, who turns 8 on Sunday, is the kid who captivated fans at the Nov. 24 game against New England by dancing around shirtless while wearing chains around his neck.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins did the same on team flights after wins this season, including a shirtless performance after a Nov. 6 victory at Washington. After seeing Gustafson on the videoboard during the game against the Patriots, Cousins said he wanted to bring the kid back as a “team mascot.”
On Thursday night, Hether Gustafson, Lincoln’s mother, said the quarterback had a Zoom call with him that lasted about 15 minutes. On the call, it was revealed that the Vikings would be leaving tickets for Lincoln, his sisters Ella, 13, and Erin, 10, and his mother and father, Derek Gustafson, who live in Denver, Iowa.
“I think he was star struck,’” Hether Gustafson said. “I don’t think he thought it was actually happening.”
Nevertheless, Lincoln claimed on the call he wasn’t nervous.
“It was super exciting,” he said.
On the call, Cousins told Lincoln that he and his teammates loved seeing Lincoln on the videoboard and wished him a happy birthday. The quarterback liked hearing that Lincoln is turning 8 because that is his uniform number.
“That is super funny,” Lincoln said.
Lincoln said it would be “super cool” having the chance to meet Cousins in person on Sunday, but it remains to be seen if that will happen. Lincoln said he is expecting Sunday to be the best birthday he’s ever had, and his father joked about his future birthdays.
“It will be a letdown every year from now on,” he said.
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