Heads turned when Minnesota Vikings starting cornerback Cameron Dantzler was missing from a few key spots in Monday night’s game at Philadelphia. Folks wondered if the 24-year-old was benched for performance.
The Vikings struggled defensively against the Eagles — especially in the 1st Half — and Dantzler appeared to be burned on a 53-yard touchdown reception by Quez Watkins. In the end, Philadelphia took down Minnesota 24-7 and secured legitimate contendership status in the NFC.
Well, Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Dontatell confirmed on Thursday that Dantzler was not benched for performance and intermixing other young corners is part of the plan for the 2022 Vikings. Donatell told reporters, “We’ll make substitutions different than that. You may see a different young player in certain weeks that we just want to take a look at because our young players are going to be in there no matter what. They have to play during the season.”
Donatell also said about Dantzler for Week 3 and beyond, “But he’ll be back in there ready to go this week.”
And this checks out as Dantzler is one of the most productive players on the Vikings through two weeks. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Dantzler is the third-best player on the Vikings roster behind Justin Jefferson and Brian O’Neill heading into Week 3, registering a 72.2 grade. The Vikings don’t have a plethora of stellar corners, so opting for Akayleb Evans, who was the young CB mentioned by Donatell, would be a bit strange.
Too, Dantzler is no stranger to performance-related benching. It took him about a month to exit Mike Zimmer’s doghouse in 2021, and to this day, nobody knows why Dantzler lived there last September. But when he received playing time in 2021, he was outwardly better than Bashaud Breeland, who was filling Dantzler’s job at the time.
Dantzler also had a series in the Eagles loss where he was the Vikings defense. He displayed a knack for tackling and stymied a Philadelphia drive — on a night when Eagles drives were rarely stifled, particularly in Quarters 1 and 2.
Overall, the short answer from the Vikings defensive bossman is “nope.” Dantzler was not maliciously benched — like last year seemed — nor was his absence from the field due to poor play.
The Vikings host the Detroit Lions on Sunday, a team with a suddenly explosive offense.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).