The Minnesota Vikings put standout pass rusher Danielle Hunter on injured reserve on Wednesday, meaning he will miss at least the first three games of the season.
He has not practiced since Aug. 14, and the team hasn’t disclosed the nature of his injury. Coach Mike Zimmer described the injury then as a “tweak.”
The Vikings open the 2020 season on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks said Wednesday the Vikings were counting on other players to step up without Hunter.
“It’s going to be hard to replace a guy like that but we have guys who are hungry and want to step up too,” Kendricks said.
The Vikings have a candidate in newly acquired defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Minnesota added Ngakoue via trade last month but the former Jacksonville Jaguars’ standout was viewed as a bookend to Hunter, not a replacement.
Hunter, 25, had 14.5 sacks each of the past two seasons.
The Packers have injury issues at right tackle, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers has already seen plenty of Hunter in his career. Hunter had quarterback sacks in each of the meetings with Green Bay in 2019. He had a strip-sack of Rodgers in 2018.
Ifeadi Odenigbo is likely to start at left defensive end in Hunter’s absence.