Jalen Nailor took advantage of his opportunity in the spring, showing up to TCO Performance Center for organized team activities, and proving himself as a playmaker with Justin Jefferson not in attendance.
It looked like Nailor was on the pathway toward having a big role with the Vikings’ offense.
Instead, the 24-year-old receiver has struggled to gain any traction, battling a calf injury in the summer, then a hamstring injury in the fall. He has been on injured reserve for the past month, though head coach Kevin O’Connell said the Vikings might activate Nailor before they play host to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.
“You guys have always known how excited I am about Jalen and his potential fit in our offense,” O’Connell said. “He truly has the skill set to develop into kind of a universal player for us, and with Justin being out right now, adding that to the room would be critical for us.”
It’s trending in the right direction for Nailor, who was a limited participant in practice this week. He officially is listed as questionable for the primetime game against the 49ers.
“We want to be smart with him,” O’Connell said. “Just make sure when he’s able to be turned loose, he’s got nothing holding him back at all.”
Cleveland officially ruled out
After missing every day of practice this week, Ezra Cleveland has officially been ruled out with a foot injury. As a result, Dalton Risner will start at left guard for the Vikings on Monday.
It will mark the first time Risner has started since signing with the Vikings last month. He played snaps in relief last weekend when the Vikings were on the road against the Chicago Bears.
Asked to evaluate that performance, O’Connell heaped praise on Risner for being ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“Ultimately, we knew at some point he’d be called upon, and that’s why we went out and got him,” O’Connell said. “I’m quite frankly looking forward to seeing him go out there and compete.”
Rumph on personal leave
Talking to reporters on Saturday, O’Connell confirmed that defensive line coach Chris Rumph has received permission to take a personal leave of absence.
There is no timetable on when Rumph will return to the coaching staff.
In his place, assistant defensive line coach Pat Hill will take over most of the responsibilities up front. He will also have some help from assistant head coach Mike Pettine.
In addition to Rumph, the Vikings also have outside linebackers coach Mike Smith on a personal leave of absence.
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