Mike Zimmer had 2nd eye surgery Friday, could return for Week 14

ByBen Goessling ESPN logo
Sunday, December 4, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- After emergency surgery for a detached retina caused him to miss the first game of his NFL career Thursday night, Mike Zimmer's health appears to be turning a corner for the better.

Zimmer had another operation on the eye Friday, after a follow-up appointment Friday morning, but it appears he could return to work next week, according to a league source.

Zimmer did not coach in the Vikings' 17-15 loss against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, one day after he had emergency surgery on his right eye -- his third operation in November on his eye.

His surgery might also prevent him from flying to the Vikings' Dec. 11 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Zimmer had told NBC before Thursday's game that there was a contingency plan in place to drive him to Jacksonville if he wasn't ready to fly.

If all goes well following Friday's surgery, though, Zimmer could return to the Vikings before the Jaguars game. Zimmer is scheduled to conduct his regular Wednesday news conference after the team returns to practice Tuesday, so it appears the team is planning for Zimmer's return, barring any setbacks.

Special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer filled in for Zimmer on Thursday night, carrying out the plan put together by Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman. Afterward, Priefer said he would be "honored" to be the interim head coach for another game, but added, "I hope I'm not needed in that capacity."

The Vikings have lost six of their past seven games after a 5-0 start and could fall two games behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North if the Lions win at New Orleans on Sunday. A favorable finish to their schedule, though, gives the Vikings a chance of winning out and possibly making the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Their final four opponents -- Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Green Bay and Chicago -- have a combined record of 14-30.

Related Video