Late in the season, teams usually get decimated by injuries. The Vikings started with some injury luck into the season, and some of the injury reports didn’t have a single name on them. In the last handful of games, the depth was starting to get tested, and multiple important Vikings missed some time. Left tackle Christian Darrisaw exited Week 10 against the Bills with a concussion and returned the following week against the Cowboys.
Only 18 plays into the game, he got hit in the head by Micah Parsons and exited again. His second concussion in only seven days changed the Vikings’ approach drastically. They are careful with him and don’t want to rush him back. He missed the two matchups with the Patriots and the Jets.
A similar story is cornerback Akayleb Evans. He came in to replace injured starting cornerback Cameron Dantzler and exited the game in Buffalo with a concussion. Evans missed the next two games and came back against the Jets just to suffer another concussion. In addition to Evans missing time, fellow rookie Andrew Booth Jr. is out for the season. The cornerback depth was tested, and players like Duke Shelley had to play meaningful snaps.
The Vikings received some good news on Wednesday, especially in their secondary. Starting cornerback Cam Dantzler was designated to return from injured reserve and will immediately start practicing.
The cornerback suffered a high ankle sprain on November 6 in the win over Washington, a game he started despite drawing a questionable tag because of a neck injury.
Players placed on IR must miss at least four games before the team can bring them back. Once they are designated to return to practice, a three-week window to activate them to the active roster. However, the Vikings have to clear a roster spot. If the team doesn’t activate a player from IR within the 21-day window, he’ll stay on the list and miss the remainder of the season.
In Dantzler’s case, there’s a good chance he’ll start against the Lions on Sunday. Dantzler, for the first time in his career, has the trust of his coaches. He did not entirely pay them back with elite play, but he has been solid. The difference in his backups has been noticeable. The struggling unit desperately needs the third-year player back, especially without Evans in the mix.
The timing is good because the Vikings face an explosive offense. Jared Goff has been playing excellent football lately, and wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Rookie receiver Jameson Williams returned from his torn ACL and could play a bigger role in his second game.
The Vikings got another player back who was in a similar situation. Rookie running back Ty Chandler was placed on IR because of a fractured thumb sustained in Week 5. Chandler was inactive in the first three games and then appeared on special teams for 28 snaps.
The preseason star has a tough path to finding meaningful playing time on offense because the Vikings have great depth at his position. Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison share the workload on offense. Kick returner Kene Nwangwu is another option at running back. Like with Dantzler, Chandler could be activated in the next three weeks.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt