E Point Perfect

Next Man Up Is Preferred for Vikings


Next Man Up Is Preferred for Vikings
Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings guard Olisaemeka Udoh (74) and offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

So far in 2022, it’s become apparent that the Minnesota Vikings offensive line has made significant strides compared to last season. There’s talent across the front blocking for quarterback Kirk Cousins, and it’s made a sizeable difference in offensive game-planning. Now dealing with an injury to the left tackle spot, the next man up is actually a return to health.

On Monday, it was revealed that backup left tackle Blake Brandel would miss the remainder of the regular season due to a torn MCL. With starter Christian Darrisaw having been shelved in recent weeks due to a series of concussions, Brandel performed admirably in a backup role that lessened the blow of such a substantial player being out.

For Minnesota, the good news is that Darrisaw is expected to return on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts. He shed the red no-contact jersey late in the week before a tilt against the Detroit Lions, but despite his questionable tag entering the game, he was inactive.

Obviously, there was a noticeable step back in ability with Brandel on the field replacing Darrisaw. Brandel was brought in as a backup, while Darrisaw has emerged as an All-Pro talent and one of the best tackles across the NFL. That said, losing a backup at a position where you’ve already dealt with injury is a serious question mark.

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Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Blake Brandel. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

For head coach Kevin O’Connell, he’ll get to insert Darrisaw as his starter for the first time since Week 11 against the Dallas Cowboys. Darrisaw played just 18 snaps in that contest (32%) before being removed with his second concussion in as many weeks. After stepping out following 44 snaps against the Buffalo Bills (53%), the Vikings opted for a much more cautious way back. Now fully healthy and cleared, the hope would be that Darrisaw can avoid any further maladies the rest of the way.

In both pass-blocking and run-blocking, Darrisaw has provided a substantial impact. On Sunday, the Vikings watched Dalvin Cook do very little against a porous Lions defense. With center Garrett Bradbury also out of the contest, Minnesota’s line was able to open up very few holes, and generating any sort of push was near non-existent. The return of Darrisaw, and potentially Bradbury, should help to substantially mitigate those issues.

More Details on Oli Udoh's Arrest
Aug 27, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Oli Udoh. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

While both the coaching staff and fans alike would prefer to see no more backups needed due to injury, veteran Oli Udoh now takes over for Brandel in slotting behind Darrisaw. After Brandel was removed from the game, Udoh came in for a handful of plays on Sunday. As Minnesota looks to make noise in the playoffs, there’s no denying they’ll need the full force of their offensive line to make any sort of run.

It’s only been 22 professional games thus far for Darrisaw’s career, but his rise to the top of his position has been meteoric. For both Cousins and the Vikings offense as a whole, Darrisaw’s health and availability may be chief among the determining factors of how far they go this year.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.


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