Vikings O-Lineman Out for Remainder of Regular Season
Entering Week 14, the Minnesota Vikings offensive line ranked 10th-best in the NFL per Pro Football Focus. Even missing Christian Darrisaw Week 11, the group held relatively firm. But now Chris Kuper’s group will finish the season sans a key reservist commodity.
Blake Brandel hit injured reserve on Monday, tearing his MCL during a loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 14. An MCL tear usually takes at least six weeks to heal, casting Brandel’s status for the postseason in jeopardy, too.
After the aforementioned Darrisaw was concussed in back-to-back weeks a month ago, Brandel slid into the starting lineup and actually performed commendably at times. He fired up this resume via PFF grade with Darrisaw on the sidelines:
- at Buffalo = 66.9
- vs. Dallas = 31.3
- vs. New England = 55.2
- vs. New York Jets = 78.8
- at Detroit = 49.1
So, as a starter or backup playing substantial snaps, Brandel was a mixed bag in Darrisaw’s stead, which is to be expected from a youngster. Brandel is in his third season from Oregon State and was discovered by the Vikings in the 6th Round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Now, he’ll heal and bide time for his next assignment, either in the postseason or September of 2023. Brandel’s final contractual year with the club is 2023.
The next man up? Rookie Vederian Lowe or veteran Oli Udoh. Vikings fans know all about Udoh from the 2021 season, as the 25-year-old spent most of the 2021 season as the franchise’s starting right guard. But when rookie Ed Ingram was drafted in April, Udoh returned to his organic spot as a backup offensive tackle. Udoh played eight offensive snaps at Detroit after Brandel’s MCL injury.
Minnesota could also explore rookie Vederian Lowe, if needed, who, like Brandel, was a 6th-Round pick. The Vikings new front office found Lowe in the 2022 NFL Draft from Illinois, and Lowe experienced his first NFL action on Sunday, playing three snaps on special teams. For backup tackles, Udoh and Lowe will become the next men up.
Meanwhile, head coach Kevin O’Connell sounded optimistic about Darrisaw’s return for Week 15. The standout left tackle is the NFL’s third-best offensive lineman per PFF, only bested by Trent Williams (SF) and Chris Lindstrom (ATL). O’Connell told reporters Monday that Darrisaw is “feeling great” and that this week’s practice regimen would determine his status versus the Indianapolis Colts.
If all goes according to plan for O’Connell, it seems the situation is “out with Brandel” temporarily and “in with Darrisaw.”
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 Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).
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