EAGAN, Minn. – Jordan Hicks is on his way back to action.
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell announced Hicks will return to practice Tuesday, effectively activating the 21-day window in which the team can decide to elevate him from Injured Reserve to the 53-man roster.
Hicks suffered an injury during Minnesota's Week 10 game against the Saints. What was thought to initially be a deep bruise quickly developed into compartment syndrome, and Hicks was taken via ambulance to the hospital for emergency surgery. He was added to Injured Reserve Nov. 14, determining he would miss at least the next four games.
When he spoke to media members Dec. 7, Hicks had expressed optimism in returning to the field during the regular season.
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.
Rookie linebacker Ivan Pace, Jr., has been handling "green dot" helmet duties in Hicks' absence, and Troy Dye has stepped up into a starting role.
Though the defense has navigated the loss of Hicks fairly smoothly, he'll certainly be welcomed back with open arms.
O'Connell said it will be "huge" to get Hicks back, especially if he's able to play in this weekend's game against the Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"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' (Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores) 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. Anytime you can get a player like that back – we've gotta get him some reps this week and see where he's at … and if we can have him available, I think it'll be a real bonus for us this week."