Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will be absent from the sideline when his team battle the high flying Cowboys on Thursday night.
Zimmer underwent his second emergency eye surgery since the beginning of last month for a torn retina suffered from a scratch to his eye during a game against the Bears on October 31. The 60-year-old was reportedly at risk of blindness if he didn't get immediate treatment.
This is just another set back for the injury hampered and struggling Vikings franchise. After starting 5-0 they have lost five of their last six games and are still without start running back Adrian Peterson.
However, they only sit a game back of the Lions in the NFC North and this home fixture against the Cowboys could be a crucial stepping stone to making the playoffs, so losing their head coach is a real stinger.
Aside from Peterson's absence, Minnesota also lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater before the season began and although Sam Bradford started well, his play has regressed in recent weeks. Norv Turner stepped down as offensive coordinator last month and was replaced by Pat Shurmur, who was expected to improve the offense but results have been much the same so far.
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General Manager Rick Spielman said on the matter: "I do know how intense Coach Zimmer is. Talking with him today and with the doctors, as much as he wants to be out there coaching tonight, it's in his best interest that we get this taking care of. Coach Zimmer has never missed a game.
"I know how hard this is on him. I can't express how hard on him it is that he won't be able to coach. But we have to look after his health."
Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer will act as interim head coach against the Cowboys tonight.
Whilst it will obviously have some impact on the team not having Zimmer there, the offensive side at least should operate as normal because Shurmur assumed offensive playcalling duties when Norv Turner resigned Zimmer's impact on that side of the ball isn't as great anyways.