Vikings coach Mike Zimmer returns after missing game for eye surgery

ByBen Goessling ESPN logo
Monday, December 5, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- After missing the first game of his NFL career on Thursday night because of a detached retina, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer resumed his coaching duties on Monday.

Zimmer is expected to travel with the team for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 11, the team said in a statement.

The coach had another operation on his right eye on Friday, after a follow-up appointment on Friday morning. Zimmer had emergency surgery on Wednesday -- his third operation of November on his eye -- and did not coach in the Vikings' 17-15 loss against the Dallas Cowboys.

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer filled in for Zimmer on Thursday night, while defensive coordinator George Edwards took over Zimmer's play-calling duties on defense. Priefer said he was ready to coach another game in Zimmer's place if the coach was not able to return for the Jaguars game, but Priefer added on Thursday night, "I hope I'm not needed in that capacity."

The timing of Zimmer's surgeries raised the question of whether the coach would be able to make the 1,500-mile journey to Jacksonville by flight, where changing air pressure could affect his right eye, or whether he would need to be driven to Florida. The Vikings' statement, however, indicated Zimmer would be able to make the team flight on Saturday.

The Vikings held the Cowboys to a season-low 264 yards, and became the first team to sack Dak Prescott at least three times since Week 2, but their loss dropped the Vikings to 6-6.

The Vikings have lost six of their last seven games after a 5-0 start and fell two games behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North after the Lions won at New Orleans on Sunday. A favorable finishing schedule, though, gives the Vikings a chance of winning out and possibly making the playoffs with a 10-6 record.