Jan 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith (84) before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr. undergoes thumb surgery

Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. underwent thumb surgery Tuesday but still is expected to be available for the Sept. 11 season opener against the Green Bay Packers.

Smith was injured in practice Monday, according to head coach Kevin O’Connell.

Smith, 23, was a second-round draft pick by the Vikings out of Alabama in 2019 but did not play last season after undergoing knee surgery.

Over his first two NFL seasons in Minnesota, Smith started 14 of the 29 games he played with 66 receptions for 676 yards and seven touchdowns.

He is the son of Irv Smith Sr., a former first-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, who played seven seasons in the NFL.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Chris Reed (62) limbers up during the day's Colts camp practice at Grand Park in Westfield on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

Colts Camp

Vikings agree to terms with veteran G Chris Reed

The Minnesota Vikings announced the signing of veteran guard Chris Reed on Friday.

Terms were not disclosed.

Reed, 29, started six of his 14 games with the Indianapolis Colts last season.

He has played in 61 games (29 starts) with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2016-18), Miami Dolphins (2019), Carolina Panthers (2019-20) and Colts.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Reed, who played college football at Minnesota State. He was not selected in the 2015 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Jun 15, 2021; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers receivers coach Chris Beatty during minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Chargers’ Chris Beatty interviewing for Vikings’ OC opening

The Minnesota Vikings are interviewing Los Angeles Chargers wide receivers coach Chris Beatty for their offensive coordinator opening on Saturday, NFL Network reported.

Beatty, 48, is coming off his first season with the Chargers. He held a variety of positions with college programs before landing in the NFL, including as wide receivers coach at Vanderbilt (2011), Wisconsin (2013-14), Maryland (2016-18) and Pitt (2019-2020).

He was the co-offensive coordinator at Illinois (2012) and Maryland (2018).

New Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell is expected to call his own plays.

–Field Level Media

Aug 19, 2021; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell looks on during a joint practice against the Las Vegas Raiders. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin O’Connell named 10th coach in Vikings history

The Minnesota Vikings officially named Kevin O’Connell as the 10th head coach in franchise history Wednesday.

He replaces Mike Zimmer, who was fired last month after eight seasons.

O’Connell joins the Vikings after winning Super Bowl LVI as the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator.

“We are ecstatic to add Kevin as our head coach,” Vikings owner and president Mark Wilf said in a news release. “He is a strong leader, an innovative coach and an excellent communicator. Kevin played the game at all levels, which gives him a unique connection to players, and he is highly respected throughout the league. Vikings fans should be excited for the future of this team under Kevin’s direction.”

O’Connell served under Rams coach Sean McVay for the past two seasons. Prior to that job, he was the offensive coordinator in Washington, where he coached quarterbacks in 2017 when the starter was Kirk Cousins, now Minnesota’s QB.

“As I spent time with Kevin during the interview process, it became immediately clear he will be a great partner in building this football team for long-term success,” said Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. “He understands what is critical to leading a team that wins at the highest level, and he has an ability to simplify the complex, which will help us in problem-solving in all football areas. He is a genuinely positive person who will help create a high-energy internal environment.”

O’Connell will be a stark contrast to the defensive-minded Zimmer, whose 72-56-1 record included an 8-9 finish in 2021.

“Kevin is an impressive and respected leader who has been a part of some explosive offensive schemes,” said Vikings owner and chairman Zygi Wilf. “He has a tremendous football IQ and is passionate about preparing, developing and communicating with his players. Beyond the Xs and Os, everyone we spoke with throughout this search process spoke highly of Kevin’s ability to motivate players, coaches and staff.”

O’Connell, 36, becomes the second-youngest head coach in the NFL, older than only McVay.

“I greatly appreciate the Wilf family, Kwesi and the entire Minnesota Vikings organization for providing the opportunity to be their next head coach,” O’Connell said. “This is a franchise with a deep history and a tremendous fan base. Having been on the visitors’ sideline at U.S. Bank Stadium and experiencing that environment as an opposing coach, I am excited to now have the support of these passionate Vikings fans. I am committed to working tirelessly to bring them a Super Bowl championship.”

The Vikings are 0-4 in the Super Bowl, with their most recent appearance coming after the 1976 season.

–Field Level Media

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh watched his team warm up before the Orange Bowl against Georgia on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Capital One Orange Bowl

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh: Done chasing NFL jobs

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he no longer is interested in seeking employment in the NFL.

Following an interview with the Minnesota Vikings, Harbaugh told the Detroit Free Press that the idea of winning the Super Bowl spurred his interest in the NFL. He was unsuccessful in his lone appearance in the big game as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013.

“Sure, the Super Bowl is the greatest prize in our sport,” Harbaugh told the newspaper. “But winning a national championship, that’s pretty darn great. Let’s do that.

“There was a pull to the NFL because I got that close to the Super Bowl, but this was the time (to try and return). And this is the last time. Now let’s go chase college football’s greatest prize.”

Harbaugh, 58, met with the Vikings this week, however the club reportedly is expected to hire Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell following Super Bowl LVI.

“There was a tugging at me that I was once that close to a Super Bowl and I didn’t get it,” Harbaugh told the newspaper. “Some NFL jobs came open. I was contacted by the Vikings. For better or for worse, it was something I wanted to explore. I went in thinking, ‘I’m gonna have 100 percent conviction on this, and if they (the Vikings) have 100 percent conviction on this, then it’s something I’m gonna do.’”

New Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was in the research and development department with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 and 2014 when Harbaugh was the team’s head coach. Harbaugh was 44-19-1 with the 49ers with three NFC Championship game appearances. His Super Bowl loss was to the Baltimore Ravens, coached by his older brother, John.

Harbaugh guided the Wolverines to the Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff in 2021. They lost to eventual champion Georgia in the semifinals.

He owns a 61-24 record during his seven seasons at Michigan, his alma mater.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Vikings QB Kirk Cousins (COVID) out Sunday

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday night’s must-win game at Green Bay, multiple outlets reported Friday.

Cousins, who reportedly is unvaccinated, will be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list for the second time in 2021. He was also in the NFL’s health and safety protocol during the preseason in August.

ESPN reported Cousins had symptoms, reported them to the team and tested positive.

With backup Sean Mannion also still on the COVID list as of Friday, rookie Kellen Mond would be in line to make his NFL debut when the Vikings (7-8) visit the Packers (12-3).

Cousins, 33, is the only quarterback to take snaps this season for Minnesota. He has completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 3,971 yards with 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 15 starts.

Mannion, 29, entered the protocol last Sunday.

Mond, 22, was selected in the third round out of Texas A&M in the 2021 NFL Draft. He passed for 9,661 yards and 71 touchdowns in four seasons with the Aggies.

–Field Level Media

Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates his touchdown during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings RB Dalvin Cook lands on COVID list

The Minnesota Vikings placed star running back Dalvin Cook on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday.

Cook eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the third consecutive season in Monday night’s 17-9 win at Chicago.

His status for Sunday’s critical game between the Vikings (7-7) and visiting Los Angeles Rams (10-4) is now in jeopardy.

Cook, 26, has rushed for 1,067 yards and six touchdowns and has 30 catches for 221 yards in 11 starts this season.

Alexander Mattison would be in line for more carries against the Rams if Cook doesn’t clear protocols in time. Mattison was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday.

The Vikings made several other roster moves on Thursday, including activating wide receiver Dan Chisena from the list.

On the practice squad, cornerback Tye Smith was added to the list and guard Kyle Hinton was activated from it.

Minnesota also signed running back A.J. Rose to the practice squad.

–Field Level Media

Dec 21, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws the ball against the Seattle Seahawks in the second half at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams, Vikings enter key matchup off short weeks

The Minnesota Vikings face a short week as they prepare for a big game with playoff implications, but they won’t be getting any sympathy cards from their upcoming opponent, the Los Angeles Rams.

The Vikings played on Monday night this week, while the Rams took the field for a rare Tuesday night affair, leaving both teams scrambling to get ready for their Sunday tilt in Minneapolis.

Minnesota (7-7) has won consecutive games since losing to the then-winless Detroit Lions. The Vikings defeated the Chicago Bears 17-9 on Monday in a less-than-inspiring performance against one of the NFC’s more anemic teams.

The Vikings produced just 193 total yards against Chicago and converted only 5 of 17 third downs. They cashed in on three Bears fumbles to stay in the thick of the NFC playoff picture. Entering the weekend, Minnesota is tied with the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints for the conference’s seventh and final playoff spot.

“I think we have work (to do),” Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “I think there is a lot to improve upon. We’re playing three really good opponents up ahead. We’re probably going to need everyone, so there is not a lot of room for error and we have to tighten the screws here and play our best football down the stretch.”

The good news for the Vikings is that two of their final three regular-season games are at home. The bad news is that the Rams (10-4) have won three straight to move into a tie with the Arizona Cardinals atop the NFC West. Los Angeles can clinch a playoff berth this weekend with a win over Minnesota (or with a loss to the Vikings plus help elsewhere).

Cooper Kupp hauled in nine catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns on Tuesday in the Rams’ 20-10 triumph over the Seattle Seahawks. He has 10 straight games with at least 90 receiving yards, and he leads the league by a large margin with both 122 catches and 1,625 receiving yards.

“He’s a great player, (and) he’s having a fantastic season,” said Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has 11 touchdown passes in the past four games. “He’s such a huge part of what we do as a team, not only on offense.

“I’m just happy that I get a chance to play with a guy like that. I know a lot of other guys on our team feel the same way. We’re just proud of him, watching him do his thing.”

The Stafford-Kupp connection could be in line for a big day against a Vikings defense that allows 252.1 passing yards per game — fourth most in the NFL.

Additionally, Los Angeles will be getting right tackle Rob Havenstein back from COVID-19 protocols after he missed the Seattle game.

Minnesota might have the services of wideout Adam Thielen (ankle) on Sunday, although he did not participate in Wednesday’s walkthrough. Cousins (ribs) was a limited participant, as well, while running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder) was a full participant.

The Vikings lead the all-time series 22-15-2 and had won five in a row against the Rams before falling 38-31 in September 2018. Kupp racked up nine catches for 162 yards and two scores in that contest.

–Field Level Media