Patrick Peterson will be out at least a month, after the Vikings placed the veteran cornerback on injured reserve Monday.
Peterson tapped the back of his right leg, indicating the hamstring injury, after chasing Panthers receiver D.J. Moore down the sideline at the end of the fourth quarter in Sunday's 34-28 win. With team athletic trainers holding him up, Peterson hopped off the field on his left leg before he was carted into the locker room.
The team announced Peterson's injury as cramps, saying he was questionable to return, but further testing revealed a significant strain that is not believed to be season ending, according to coach Mike Zimmer. Peterson must sit out at least three games. With the Vikings entering a bye week, the earliest he can return is Nov. 21 against Green Bay.
"I feel fine," Zimmer said of the cornerback situation. "Patrick has played really well. We'll miss him, for sure, but [Cameron] Dantzler has done decent and so has [Bashaud] Breeland."
The Vikings' next three games — against the Cowboys, Ravens and Chargers — will be Peterson's first games missed because of injury in his 11-year NFL career. Peterson, 31, had previously missed only six games in 2019 due to a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
Save for a couple coverage busts, the former All-Pro pick has been a solid cover corner and credited as a strong leader by younger teammates since arriving in Minnesota on a one-year deal this offseason.
One of the players he's mentored, Dantzler, is expected to start again after replacing Peterson against the Panthers. Dantzler started 10 games as a rookie, but has appeared on defense in only three games this year since being relegated to a backup role.
The bye week is always welcomed, but it's especially so for a Vikings team that had 11 players on the injury report headed into Sunday's win. Zimmer said nose tackle Michael Pierce could return soon from an elbow injury that has kept him out for two games.
"We've been going since July 20th or something, it's like three months," Zimmer said. "We obviously have a tough stretch coming up. But knock on wood, we've been fairly healthy. I think we should get Mike Pierce back here pretty quick, and we lost Peterson, finally got Barr back, so we're hanging in there injury-wise, and I think that helps."
Darrisaw '100% healed' after 89 plays
Left tackle Christian Darrisaw doesn't need his conditioning questioned anymore after not only starting against the Panthers, but playing all 89 snaps. It was the second-highest play total by the Vikings offense with quarterback Kirk Cousins, doing so with a rookie blindside blocker two months removed from a second core muscle surgery.
"I'm a little sore right now, as expected," Darrisaw said Monday. "But nothing major or anything like that. I feel good. If we had a game this upcoming week, I would be ready to go and attack that."
Darrisaw was graded well by the coaching staff against Panthers edge rushers Brian Burns and Haason Reddick, with Zimmer noting just one especially poor pass blocking rep and a missed assignment. Just as important, Darrisaw said he's "100% healed" from the groin injury that had followed him from Virginia Tech to Minnesota.
'We forget to bring that juice'
Darrisaw helped pave the way for C.J. Ham's 30-yard run, moving Panthers defensive lineman Derrick Brown – the 2020 first-round pick – out of the gap with left guard Ezra Cleveland. The excitement of seeing a 250-pound fullback do the rest by juking Panthers safety Sean Chandler provided much-needed "juice," as Darrisaw said, to teammates who were down after the blocked punt.
Receiver Adam Thielen explained how Ham's run impacted more than a key third down.
"Sometimes we forget to bring that juice," Thielen said. "Bring that excitement on the sideline, and I'm literally pointing all the fingers at myself. I have a habit of kind of go in my little zone and just focus on the next play, right? But what I think happened was we had a bunch of guys, right after [the blocked punt], that stood up and said, 'You know what? We're a little dull right now on the sideline, and we need to get going.'"
- The Vikings signed tackle Blake Brandel to the active roster with the spot opened by Peterson's move to I.R. This comes after tackle Rashod Hill suffered a knee injury while blocking for the opening field goal. He did not play another snap.
- Zimmer said the offensive line might've been the "best thing" from Sunday's win: "The offensive line blocked very, very well. Really good protection, good pocket, did a nice job in the run game."