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Vikings coach Mike Zimmer expected to return against Jaguars

Vikings face Jaguars in Week 14

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One game was difficult enough for Mike Zimmer to miss.

He sure didn't want to sit out longer than that, even after major eye surgery.

The hard-driving head coach has returned to work with the Minnesota Vikings, who announced on Monday that Zimmer is expected to travel with the team this weekend to Jacksonville.

That's a three-hour flight, a little bit more than a week after Zimmer had an emergency operation to repair a detached retina, but the Vikings (6-6) wouldn't have proactively declared him fit for the job again if there were still uncertainty about his status for the game on Sunday against the Jaguars (2-10).

The matchup with a team with the third-worst record in the NFL has taken on an extra measure of significance, given the freefall Minnesota has experienced since a league-leading 5-0 start. The Vikings have dropped in the NFC North two games behind Detroit, which owns the division tiebreaker with a season sweep, and they're on the outside of the race for two wild card spots. The 17-15 loss to Dallas on Thursday, with special teams coordinator Mike Priefer running the team in Zimmer's absence, was their sixth in the last seven games.

The Jaguars have had their own issues, losing their seventh straight game following Sunday’s 20-10 defeat by the Denver Broncos. Sunday’s game against the Vikings will mark nearly a full calendar year (Dec. 15, 2015 against Indianapolis) since the Jaguars last win in Jacksonville. Even though the Jaguars have officially been eliminated from the playoffs Bradley expects his team to be ready to play against Minnesota.

“You know during a season, you know you’re going to go through some tough times,” said Bradley. “You want players that have strong enough character that will help you through those tough times. That’s what you’re seeing in the locker room. It’s unbelievable. It’s unwavering, yet they’re hurting. Someone said they’re frustrated and they’re upset. They’re all that. As far as their character, that part is unwavering.”