E Point Perfect

Vikings Defense Could Soon Receive Help


Vikings Defense Could Soon Receive Help
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Patrick Jones II (91) and cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) tackle San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings defense has remained a lackluster unit all season long. Outside of a half in which Ed Donatell’s group buckled down to pull off the greatest comeback in NFL history, they’ve continued to be burned over the past few weeks. Good news may be on the horizon, however.

There has been no unit more exposed this season for Minnesota than the Vikings secondary. While Ed Donatell’s defensive front has sometimes failed to get home, and the linebackers have been burnt, the corners have brought up the rear. That was largely the expectation coming into the season after having a poor group under Mike Zimmer last year, and with injuries occurring to draftees, not much was going to change.

Vikings Defense Could Soon Receive Help

Although safety Lewis Cine suffered a season-ending injury against the New Orleans Saints in London, and Andrew Booth Jr. continued to struggle staying on the field, mid-round pick Akayleb Evans broke out. Starting in the Washington Commanders game against Taylor Heinecke, the rookie seemed to make his mark. Fast forward just a few weeks, and a series of concussions landed him on injured reserve.

Following the Vikings walkoff win against the New York Giants this weekend, Evans offered up some positivity regarding his status.

Placed on injured reserve following the Week 13 victory over the New York Jets, Evans is required to sit out at least four games. That would make him eligible to return for Minnesota’s final regular season game against the Chicago Bears. Although Justin Fields has taken substantial steps forward and looks like a dynamic talent, they may not need him for that game. Where the Vikings certainly do need all hands on deck is the playoffs.

vikings defense could
Akayleb Evans

It remains to be seen how Minnesota will manage the health of its players through the final two weeks of the season. Justin Jefferson is chasing NFL history when it comes to receiving yards, and quarterback Kirk Cousins is putting up some solid numbers in his own right. There’s no denying that the Vikings would prefer to win out, but head coach Kevin O’Connell has suggested it will balance winning the week and focusing on the bigger picture.

Immediately up this weekend is a Green Bay Packers team faced with the reality that they must win out to have an opportunity for a playoff berth. The Vikings would love to end their divisional rival’s season, but playing for seeding is a substantially less impactful scenario.

The Vikings Final Injury Report: Week 13
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

There’s no reason to rush Evans back and risk him being unavailable for the games that matter en route to a Super Bowl. That said, behind Patrick Peterson, Minnesota has had minimal notable production this season. Getting a high-performing rookie back in pads would substantially boost the club as a whole.

In observing him on Twitter throughout the season, there is no doubt that Evans is a gamer and prefers to be on the field. The Vikings would love to have him back, but they’ll need to pump his breaks until all systems are clearly go.

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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