EAGAN, Minn. – Jordan Hicks' comeback story proved to be a fast read.
The Vikings linebacker is ready to return to action for the Minnesota Vikings home game against the Detroit Lions (10-4) in Week 16.
Minnesota (7-7) activated Hicks from Injured Reserve on Saturday, completing the veteran's return from a shin injury that quickly developed into compartment syndrome after Minnesota hosted New Orleans in Week 10 (Nov. 12). Hicks was transported by an ambulance to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery.
After his release from the hospital, Hicks began his rehab work and expressed optimism on Dec. 7 that he would be able to return this season.
Hicks helped key a string of five consecutive wins with an interception and 42-yard return of a fumble for a touchdown at Chicago. Now, he's trying to help the Vikings finish the season with three more wins, which would secure a playoff berth.
Through the season's first 10 games, Hicks totaled 87 tackles, one interception, a sack, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and four passes defensed.
Hicks handles the "green dot" duties of relaying play calls from Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores. Undrafted rookie Ivan Pace, Jr., has filled in for Hicks in that role, and the defense has played well in Hicks' absence, but the Vikings have been unable to hold off fourth-quarter rallies by the Broncos, Bears and Bengals in three of the past four games.
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said it will be "huge" to get Hicks back.
"What Jordan brings from a communication standpoint in that huddle, or when people are kind of in that 2-minute mode and he can be an extension of Flo' out there, as far as getting the call, the checks, the alerts – the communication to all 11 guys," O'Connell said. "He's got such great rapport with [Harrison Smith], [Josh] Metellus and [Camryn] Bynum on the back end, and then making sure the front's dialed in with Danielle [Hunter] and D.J. [Wonnum] and those interior guys to go have the best rush plan tied in with the coverage – if we're sending a pressure, if we're dropping into coverage, whatever that looks like, you feel ultimately the most comfortable when you've got a veteran presence like Jordan who just has total ownership of what we're doing.
"And I think [Pace has] been great in his absence – not only making plays but coordinating a lot of those things through the green dot with Flo' in his ear," O'Connell continued. "So I think the experience Ivan gained in that time will only help him and his communication in that role when Jordan does come back and those two are side by side making sure, from that linebacker position, that we're dialed in.
"I know our guys are excited," O'Connell added. "Jordan is the heart and soul, as far as the leadership goes, on our defense – right alongside Harry and Danielle and Josh Metellus and some of our other guys."
In order to make room for Hicks, the Vikings waived veteran linebacker Nick Vigil, who has spent time on Minnesota's 53-man roster and practice squad this season. Vigil has played 83 snaps on special teams over the course of six games this season.
Minnesota also utilized standard elevations for cornerback Jaylin Williams and receiver Lucky Jackson.
Williams is an undrafted rookie out of Indiana. He recorded nine tackles, an interception and two passes defensed during the preseason. Williams, 23, was released during roster reductions and signed to Minnesota's practice squad before the season.
Jackson, who played college football at Western Kentucky, is an NFL rookie who played for the XFL's D.C. Defenders and earned an All-XFL selection after recording 36 catches for 573 yards and five touchdowns. He joined Minnesota in May and caught two passes for 23 yards during the preseason.