Hurt Feelings Aside, One Viking Is Back.

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings fans reacts during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Marcus Davenport missed most of the Minnesota Vikings first three regular season games with an ankle injury, and some fans had no patience for it.

Hurt Feelings Aside, One Viking Is Back.

One of the team’s keynote offseason additions along with cornerback Byron Murphy, Vikings faithful demanded Davenport get on the field — never mind the ankle injury. The EDGE rusher played so little in Minnesota’s first three games — all losses — that a fraction of the Vikings fanbase had already declared Davenport a “bust” free-agent addition and sarcastically declared that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had no idea what he was doing.

Hurt Feelings Aside
Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers place kicker Eddy Pineiro (4) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Marcus Davenport (0) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, players like Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Smith missed 3+ games last year, and largely, nobody cared. But when Davenport wasn’t quite ready for the 2023 kickoff, some believed there was more to it, suggesting he wasn’t motivated to play or any zany narrative that would fit the agenda.

Then, Davenport showed up to Week 4 in Carolina and wrecked the game — in a good way.

Contribution from Free
Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Marcus Davenport addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Davenport joined the Vikings in March of 2023 after four seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

Davenport tallied 4 tackles, 2 pressures, a sack, a QB hit, and a tackle for loss in Charlotte, aiding the Vikings toward their first victory of 2023, which was desperately needed if the club wants to contend for the postseason. The vision to pair him with Danielle Hunter was in full effect and even emulated last year’s early-season success involving Hunter and Za’Darius Smith, who now plays for the Cleveland Browns.

After the win, Davenport acknowledged his frustration with the ankle injury and the noise about his absence, “I’m lucky the way my teammates embraced me. I kind of blame myself for seeing some outside things, you know, people like to talk. Some points I had to take personal, some of the things I had to let go. But I was lucky in that I had people almost every day checking on me and telling me to keep my head up.”

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Marcus Davenport (0) pressures Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings pass rush struggled to knock quarterbacks to the turf or grass without Davenport in Weeks 1 through 3, so when he returned against the Panthers, he felt like a true breath of fresh air.

“I’m a hater of the media right now because y’all hurt my feelings, but I’m past that. I’m just lucky to go out there and play with my teammates again,” Davenport lightheartedly opined about his return.

Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas-San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport arrives on the red carpet before the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

And the man isn’t kidding about hurt feelings. Check any Vikings social media outlet from September 11th to September 30th, and you’ll find various folks vicious about Davenport’s absence. The strange group tended to speculate that Davenport didn’t enjoy football, just wanted a paycheck, or simply didn’t care about missing games.

After his Week 4 production and subsequent comments, all Davenport conspiracy theories turned out to be false. Imagine that.

Next up for Davenport and the Vikings? The Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, a team favored by five points to topple Minnesota.

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).

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