Wes Phillips Applauds His ‘Big Dancing Bear’

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Training camp has started for the Minnesota Vikings.

The first preseason game will occur in Seattle on August 10th, exactly one month before the regular season kicks off at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Early reports out of camp suggest that wide receiver Jalen Nailor could be this year’s camp breakout player. Last year, Christian Darrisaw exploded to stardom and received praise from all angles.

Wes Phillips Applauds His ‘Big Dancing Bear’

Wes Phillips Applauds His 'Big Dancing Bear'
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Darrisaw has been absolutely sensational since taking over the left tackle spot in his rookie campaign. He struggled early with a core muscle surgery that had him miss the beginning of his debut season, but he showed promise once he stepped onto the field and is slowly turning into an elite player. Offensive coordinator Wes Phillips praised his blind-side protector.

Anytime you got a player as talented as Christian, and to see the work he put in this offseason, and he came in in phenomenal shape, he was in here, working out late night. I think he got that from Trent Williams ot something. Work out, he’d be here at 11 o’clock at night or something, getting a lift in. As long as he had a spotter, we’re okay with that.

Just to see the work he has put in, I think he’s got a real mindset that this is a year where if anyone hadn’t noticed him yet, I know the players who play against him certainly notice him, I think across the league, we’ll be talking about him as one of the elite tackle for years to come.

Wes Phillips, Vikings OC

Darrisaw shined in his second season, already drawing comparisons to the great Trent Williams during last year’s training camp, but still, nobody expected him to be that good in his second season after just one full offseason in the NFL. PFF graded him as the second-best offensive tackle, only behind Williams.

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We’ve only seen Darrisaw’s jump from his rookie season to his second year in 2022. After having another healthy offseason, another jump is possible. We may not have seen him playing at his best.

Phillips was asked about Darrisaw’s mentality that makes him great and those of left tackles, in general, facing excellent defenders weekly.

The best left tackles that I’ve been around – whether it’s Tyron Smith, Trent Williams, and now Christian – they’re smart guys. They have a real understanding of the game and so they can allow it to kind of slow down a little bit for them. They study tape, they study their opponents, they watch film on their own. And they are elite athletes on top of it. As good of athlets they’re facing, these guys are big dancing bears and if they can get connected, they got advantage obviously with their size and their weight.

Wes Phillips, Vikings OC

While his pass protection is solid, his strength is run blocking, where he bullies good defenders, who regularly end up on the ground. Controlling opponents with great technique and upper body strength makes his highlight tape one of the most entertaining films of offensive linemen in the league.

Christian Darrisaw
EAGAN, MN – AUGUST 04: Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (71) looks on during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan, MN, on August 4, 2021. (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After Andrew Thomas’ extension on Wednesday, Darrisaw’s asking price for the extension must have increased. He will be eligible for one next year. The left tackle is an elite player, and his offensive coordinator predicts that everyone will know it after the next season after he was snubbed from the Pro Bowl and All-Pro consideration.

The only thing that slowed Darrisaw down was a couple of concussions last season. Those can be serious injuries, especially when the numbers pile up. Protecting his brain must be the top priority for the Vikings and Darrisaw.

He will once again form one of the elite offensive tackle duos in the game with Brian O’Neill once he returns from his Achilles injury. The two tackles are a driving piece for the offense, an offense that could make another step to greatness in the upcoming season in an attempt to carry the team to the postseason despite the shaky defense.

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