Danielle Hunter's first season back from injury appears to have met a premature conclusion.
The Vikings edge rusher is feared to have suffered a torn pectoral muscle, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported. Hunter is undergoing an MRI exam Monday morning to confirm the diagnosis, which would sideline him for the rest of the season. Coach Mike Zimmer later confirmed the season-ending injury.
Hunter suffered the pectoral injury in Minnesota's Sunday night loss to Dallas. He played fewer than 40 percent of the total defensive snaps, exiting midway through the second quarter.
Hunter's injury would be the second to rob him of significant playing time in as many seasons. A neck ailment kept him from participating in the 2020 season at all following two straight Pro Bowl seasons.
When healthy, Hunter is a menace and unquestionably Minnesota's best rusher, if not the Vikings' best defender overall. Hunter has racked up 60.5 sacks in roughly five and a half seasons and had six sacks in seven games before suffering the pectoral injury. He earned a five-year, $72 million extension in 2018 and will have two seasons left on it if his 2021 campaign is finished.
Minnesota, meanwhile, will have to turn elsewhere to attempt to replace him for a second straight campaign.