1 Day Later, Vikings Surprise Cut Is Back

7 Predictions for Vikings Training Camp
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The Minnesota Vikings cut 35 players to get under the roster limit on Monday and Tuesday, followed by the release of Jalen Reagor on Wednesday, who was acquired one year prior via trade.

1 Day Later, Vikings Surprise Cut Is Back

Most notably-cut players landed on the practice squad, like running back DeWayne McBride, defensive tackle Sheldon Day, and cornerback Joejuan Williams.

1 Day Later, the Surprise Cut Is Back
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Perhaps the biggest surprise was the release of outside linebacker Luiji Vilain, who, in the eyes of many, did enough in the preseason and training camp to be worthy of a valuable roster spot. That, however, went to Andre Carter, an undrafted rookie out of Army.

It took Vilain one day to return to the purple team as the team announced that he was also part of the initial practice squad. Like all other practice squad members, Vilain can be elevated three times to the gameday roster, but the Vikings took the risk that somebody might claim him off waivers.

Just like Carter in 2023, Vilain was an undrafted rookie in 2022, and he surprisingly made the team in his debut season. Because he was stuck behind starters Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith and backups Patrick Jones and D.J. Wonnum, he didn’t contribute much, especially because none of those four missed significant time with injury.

Michigan Wolverines’ Luiji Vilain rushes Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz during the first half at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. © Kirthmon F. Dozier via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Vilain appeared in three games and logged 34 defensive snaps and 59 on special teams. His preseason leading up to his second campaign was promising, as he ranked second on the Vikings in QB pressures and hurries and first in QB hits. Vilain also recorded one sack in the preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Vikings roll into the season with three returning players — Hunter, Wonnum, Jones — backed up by rookie Carter, and free agent addition Marcus Davenport will start. The latter and Hunter have had their fair share of injury problems in recent years, so depth is vital in case of an emergency.

Vikings Defense Could Soon Receive Help
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Vilain’s road to the 53-man roster is obvious. He needs a couple of injuries ahead of him. One problem could be fellow practice squad guy Benton Whitley, who had an outstanding preseason in his own right and looked quite impressive. It remains to be seen if he gets elevated to a few games, too.

It is not a new situation for Vilain to be buried on the depth chart. In his four seasons at Michigan, he only recorded a single sack behind some star players like Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye before transferring to Wake Forest, where he sacked opposing QBs eight times in his one season there.

Vilain was an older prospect coming out, and he is already 25 years old, but he still has shown some flashes in the summer of 2023. The Vikings keep him around on the practice squad.

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