Iron Man Streak Ends for Vikings Defender

Iron Man Streak Ends for Vikings Defender
Vikings Helmet. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski).

The Minnesota Vikings take on the Washington Commanders on Sunday, and they’ll be without a defender who’s never missed a game.

That’s Dalvin Tomlison, a stalwart of the Vikings defensive line in 2022. The 28-year-old injured his calf in Week 8 versus the Arizona Cardinals. He was ruled out of Week 9 action on Friday.

A free-agent addition in 2021 from the New York Giants, Tomlinson has started 87 consecutive games dating back to his selection in the 2nd Round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

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Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

In his stead, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell stated that newly-acquired free agent Khyiris Tonga would experience ample playing time, although O’Connell did not formally nominate a starter. James Lynch is expected to see an uptick in defensive snaps, too.

The Vikings are 6-1 through Week 8, the team’s best start through seven games of a season since 2009. And Tomlinson isn’t a menial player in that equation. As of November 4th, Tomlinson ranks as Minnesota’s seventh-best player per Pro Football Focus:

  1. LT – Christian Darrisaw (85.8)
  2. EDGE – Za’Darius Smith (84.4)
  3. WR – Justin Jefferson (80.6)
  4. EDGE – Danielle Hunter (79.9)
  5. CB – Patrick Peterson (77.9)
  6. RT – Brian O’Neill (76.5)
  7. DL – Dalvin Tomlinson (74.6)
  8. QB – Kirk Cousins (74.4)
  9. LG – Ezra Cleveland (74.0)
  10. RB – Dalvin Cook (73.9)

In fact, Tomlinson’s grade is the 18th-best leaguewide through Week 8 among all interior defensive linemen. The man will be missed.

Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer shakes hands with defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Tomlinson has tabulated 21 tackles, 6 pressures, 3 QB hits, and 1.5 sacks so far in 2022. He’s an anchor of the Vikings interior line and is arguably one of the few players not to encounter a bad game this season.

Thankfully for the Vikings sake, his injury isn’t season-threatening, possibly hinting at a return in Week 10 or 11. His injury recovery rate is unknown because, well, he’s never missed a game.

The Commanders offense ranks 30th in the NFL per DVOA, so Minnesota won’t face a rip-roaring juggernaut in Landover. However, a rip-roaring juggernaut is on the docket in nine days as the Vikings travel to Buffalo for a date with Super Bowl-frontrunning Bills.

We shall see if Tomlinson is ready for that ominous matchup.


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).