How Crucial is the Vikings CB Swap?
The Minnesota Vikings head to Ford Field this week for a tilt against the Detroit Lions. Their last matchup was an offensive frenzy that required two 4th quarter touchdowns for Kirk Cousins and his squad to emerge victorious. Needing to contain the Lions at home, Kevin O’Connell’s secondary is yet again in flux, but how much does the Vikings CB swap matter this time around?
Earlier this week the Vikings placed Akayleb Evans on injured reserve following another concussion. Despite being a 4th round pick, the former Missouri Tigers standout worked his way onto the field and became a difference maker with key plays against the Washington Commanders. Following that contest he drew starts, the first two of his professional career, against both the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.
Evans performed admirably in a starting role and helped to provide a boost for Ed Donatell’s leaky secondary. Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion and missed games against both the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. Returning last week to keep Jets quarterback Mike White in check, he again was diagnosed with a concussion and will be out for at least the next four weeks.
One caveat to Evans having come on late is that he was inactive for the first game against the Detroit Lions. Early starter Cam Dantzler was active and is now coming off injured reserve to take back over for Evans.
A team having such a short cornerback room, like the Vikings currently do, certainly would benefit from having both on the field, but this isn’t a situation that Donatell hasn’t schemed up before.
In Week 3 against the Lions, Dantzler made eight tackles while playing 100% of the defensive snaps. He was a guy that emerged last season as a strong option on the edge and being able to provide consistency next to Patrick Peterson is key.
Facing the Lions a second time, Donatell will need to hope there’s no rust for Dantzler, who has been out with an ankle injury. Peterson has remained consistently healthy all season, as has fellow veteran Chandon Sullivan. They’ll be joined by recent acquisition Duke Shelley, and the task will again to make it as though the loss of Evans doesn’t hurt them.
While Detroit does have a star in Amon-Ra St. Brown, D.J. Chark hasn’t truly established himself in the NFL, and top pick Jameson Williams drew just a single target in his professional debut last week. The Lions also are no longer the employer of T.J. Hockenson, who has since switched sides of the field. He contributed a touchdown on three receptions against the Vikings the first time around.
It’s silly to suggest that Minnesota isn’t better with Evans and Dantzler on the field, but the return of the latter could soften the blow of losing the former.
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.