The Encouraging Danielle Hunter Update

Defender Earns Sweet
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Wednesday’s injury report was a scary sight for Vikings fans as what felt like half the starting lineup missed the day’s practice. Alexander Mattison, Brian O’Neill, Byron Murphy, Harrison Phillips, and Danielle Hunter had to sit out, although the good news was Jordan Hicks’ return to practice for the first time since his lower leg procedure.

The Encouraging Danielle Hunter Update

The Encouraging Danielle Hunter Update
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The NFL is a next-man-up business, and whenever a player can’t participate in a game, his backup replaces him, and the game will be played like nothing has ever happened. But certain guys are simply irreplaceable. Usually, those are the starting quarterback and a couple of Pro Bowl-caliber players on every team.

Hunter is, without any doubt, one of those players. He cannot be replaced, perhaps not even by anyone in the league. The veteran is the best defender on the roster, and offenses must gameplan for him if they don’t want him to ruin the offense by racking up sacks and dominating in the run game. Despite seeing that kind of attention, he has still managed to sack opposing QBs 15.5 times, ranking him just behind league-leader T.J. Watt (16).

Explained: Predictions and Analysis for Vikings-Lions
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The fear of having to defend the division against the roaring Lions without the three-time Pro Bowler was real, but he returned to practice on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, which makes it highly unlikely that he will miss his first game since 2021. Hunter is a crucial piece in the divisional matchup as Lions QB Jared Goff statistically struggles under pressure.

Minnesota has already been without free agent addition Marcus Davenport for the majority of the season. A pair of ankle injuries have limited him to only 118 defensive snaps spread out to four games. His inability to stay on the field has been a huge problem for a team that doesn’t have anyone other than Hunter who can consistently get to the quarterback.

D.J. Wonnum has shown flashes, and 2023 is certainly the best season of his four-year career, but one could only imagine how much better the already decent defense would look with Davenport healthy and Wonnum playing in a rotational role.

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Patrick Jones, a third-year player, is also forced to play a larger role, but the main takeaway is that defensive coordinator Brian Flores and his star defender Hunter are the main reasons this defense is working.

Hunter was a huge topic in the 2023 offseason as he was unhappy with his contract, which was scheduled to pay him roughly $5 million in the final season. The defender held out of the early stages of training camp, trying to secure his health before receiving a raise. It worked. The Vikings caved, and Hunter is getting paid a fair amount in 2023. His compensation is up to $20 million after triggering his incentives.

Future in Minnesota Should
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After the season, however, the Vikings will either lose their top player or have to sign him to a contract extension. He is a pending free agent and should be a hot commodity after his productive season in Flores’ system. There is a chance he will command $30 million per season.

Regardless of what might happen in the offseason, the Vikings will not get a preview of life after Hunter on Sunday, as he is expected to play.

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