Vikings Place 2 Players on IR, Sign 2 New

Vikings Place 2 Players on IR, Sign 2 New
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The Vikings were one of the healthiest teams all season, but the injuries are starting to hit the purple team.

Cornerbacks Cameron Dantzler, Akayleb Evans, and Andrew Booth spent time on IR, just like tight ends Irv Smith and Ben Ellefson, offensive tackle Blake Brandel, safety Lewis Cine, and running back Ty Chandler. Even if every injury is a disaster for the individual players, none of those injuries threatened the Vikings season.

Now, the injuries have piled up, especially on the offensive line. Both starting linemen Brian O’Neill and Austin Schlottmann exited the Week 17 contest against the Packers early in the game. Schlottmann was already the backup for injured center Garrett Bradbury. The two offensive linemen were placed on injured reserve and will miss at least four games. In theory, they are eligible to be back for a potential Super Bowl, but their injuries are likely too significant.

Vikings Place 2 Players on IR, Sign 2 New

Bradbury is producing an excellent season, and he picked the perfect time for his career year, as his rookie contract is expiring after the season. He’ll become a free agent in March. One desperate team with a bad offensive line will sign him for a lot of money, maybe even the Vikings.

Vikings Place 2 Players
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Schlottmann was a downgrade but not a liability by any means. He is a center and knows what to do at the position. His backup, however, is a different story. Chris Reed, a veteran guard, is the third center on the team and played for most of the game in Green Bay. Other than Schlottmann’s play, Reed was a liability, especially snapping the ball at the right time. Multiple false start penalties were the consequence. He seems to be the Vikings starter for the foreseeable future.

Playing without right tackle O’Neill is another massive problem for the Vikings. The 2018 second-rounder is one of the best offensive tackles in the league. PFF graded him as the seventh-best offensive tackle. He also went to the Pro Bowl in 2021 and has been the one consistent player on a struggling line in the last five years.

The Vikings Playoff Probability Meter: Week 13
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Oli Udoh will be the starter in his absence. Udoh came into the league as a tackle, but the Vikings moved him to guard in 2021 — a terrible decision. He is much better suited to play at tackle and may surprise some fans. However, expecting him to replace one of the top linemen in the game without a downgrade would be foolish.

The Vikings offensive line will probably be Darrisaw-Cleveland-Reed-Ingram-Udoh until the team can get Bradbury back. Back injuries are tricky, and it will be interesting to see when, if at all, the center can come back. Until that’s the case, the Vikings must work with Reed to improve his center skills. If he’s playing as he did on Sunday, the team won’t spend a long time in the postseason race.

Vikings Sign New OT
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Also on Tuesday. GM Kwesi Aofo-Mensah signed two linemen, center Greg Mancz to the active roster and guard Bobby Evans to the practice squad. Mancz started 16 games for Houston in 2016 and 32 games total in his career. He is a career backup option on poor offensive lines. Reed is a better blocker but is only better if he can get used to the center duties.

At the end of the day, there’s a reason why the two players were available in Week 18. The Vikings will try to gain some chemistry on their offensive line in Week 18.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt