2 Vikings Quietly Made NFL Debuts Recently

Sep 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) passes against the Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings lost to the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend, a four-point defeat that sunk the purple team to an 0-3 season hole.

Brian Flores’ defense couldn’t stop the Chargers aerial onslaught, and quarterback Justin Herbert accumulated a cool 405 passing yards.

2 Vikings Quietly Made NFL Debuts Recently

Along the way, though, two rookie Vikings defenders made debuts — and will probably see playing time from here on out.

Andre Carter (OLB)

With Marcus Davenport hobbled by a bad ankle, the Vikings have experienced little to no pass-rushing support from reservist options. VikingsTerritory’s Sean Borman tweeted Monday morning, one day after the loss to Los Angeles, “DJ Wonnum and Pat Jones II rank 109 and 110 in PFF’s pass rush grade among edge rushers with at least 25 snaps.”

2 Vikings Quietly Made
Nov 12, 2022; Troy, Alabama, USA; Army Black Knights outside linebacker Andre Carter II (34) during the second half against the Troy Trojans at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports.

With slim-picking contributions from Wonnum and Jones, Minnesota has turned to other options, including rookie outside linebacker Andre Carter.

Carter played 14 defensive snaps against Los Angeles, his first taste of NFL action after making the active roster as an undrafted free agent. If Davenport doesn’t rejoin the defense in a starting capacity soon and Wonnum + Jones struggle, fans will undoubtedly crave Carter’s presence on the field, a talent laden with upside.

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Jake Curhan (74) blocks Minnesota Vikings linebacker Andre Carter II (55) during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

Carter produced a 54.6 Pro Football Focus grade on Sunday, right in the middle of not-horrible and not-good.

We shall see if he experiences more snaps at Carolina this weekend, as the aforementioned Davenport is questionable through Thursday’s practice.

Jaquelin Roy (DL)

The Vikings signed Dean Lowry from the Green Bay Packers this offseason, and so far in 2023, the veteran defender hasn’t done much — at all. His 40.7 PFF grade is almost comical, logging 6 total tackles and zero quarterback pressures.

Vikings Rookie Getting
Tigers Jaquelin Roy during the NFL Pro Day at LSU. Wednesday, March 29, 2023. Roy was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in Round 5 of the 2023 NFL Draft by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. © SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK.

So, until Lowry finds his footing, Minnesota may explore rookie options on the defensive line’s interior, and perhaps why Jaquelin Roy, a 5th-Round rookie from LSU, saw the field in Week 3.

Roy played 9 defensive snaps against the Chargers and formally put his first game in a box score, tabulating a 66.6 PFF score to show for it. The young lineman impressed at times during Vikings training camp and in the preseason, and it seems he’ll now be interwoven into regular season operations.

Nov 26, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; LSU Tigers defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy (99) in action during the game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the LSU Tigers at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

Some considered Roy a late-round steal for Minnesota, so his acclimation to the defense early — perhaps often — isn’t a total surprise. Too, mentioned above about the Vikings underwhelming pass rush, Flores must find some help for Danielle Hunter. The one-man wrecking crew can’t do it all, and youngsters like Roy and Carter will be on tap for in-game auditions, especially if the Vikings season goes off the rails with more losses.

The Vikings are favored by four points to get their first win of the season at Carolina on Sunday.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.