Former Viking Makes Game-Winning Play

Vikings Starter Hits the Shelf Indefinitely
Jun 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings corner back Cameron Dantzler. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The preseason is history, and the next time an NFL game kicks off, it will be a meaningful game in the regular season. Minnesota finished with a 0-3 record and hasn’t won an exhibition contest since 2019. The Houston Texans, meanwhile, won a couple of games, and an ex-Vikings draft pick played a major role in the last one.

Former Viking Makes Game-Winning Play

Former Viking Makes Game-Winning Play
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler Sr. (3) reacts late during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

In 2020, the Vikings were bereft of cornerbacks when they entered the draft with only Mike Hughes as a somewhat decent CB on the roster, so former general manager Rick Spielman had to take action. He selected Jeff Gladney in the first round and Cameron Dantzler in the third round.

Dantzler had a tumultuous offseason, but he finished the preseason strong with a game-sealing interception against the New Orleans Saints and their rookie passer Jeff Haener targeting tight end Lucas Krull. And it was quite the artistic grab on a fourth and four in the game’s final minute.

It looked even more impressive from a couple of different angles.

The Mississippi State product can’t be happy with how his career is trending, as he was waived by the Vikings in March despite the disastrous state of their CB group. The Commanders claimed him and waived him in May. His next chapter was with the Buffalo Bills, but he was released less than two months later.

Cameron Dantzler
Dec 6, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive back Cameron Dantzler (27) recovers a fumble in the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

That’s why he landed on the team of new head coach DeMeco Ryans. He signed on Tuesday and made plays on Sunday, so it didn’t take him long to make an impact.

The bad news is that he played the last play of the preseason, and guys who make the roster don’t often play that late in the game. He should still be considered to be on the outside looking in. On the flip side, he made the best out of the situation, and highlight plays get athletes a roster spot or at least a practice squad somewhere.

Dantzler’s NFL journey has been a strange one because he played well in his rookie season and climbed the depth chart under head coach Mike Zimmer rather quickly, making plays in training camp against Adam Thielen and carrying that over into the season, shutting down some excellent receivers.

Purple Rumor Mill: Dantzler's Return, the Seafood Kicker, Bullard on the Shelf
Jul 29, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler (3) looks on during training camp at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Still, he was benched for Bashaud Breeland, who was a disaster on the field, and the sophomore somehow landed in Zimmer’s doghouse. When the new coaching staff arrived, it was expected that Dantzler would get out of there, and he did. He was in another staff’s doghouse a few months later and eventually released.

He is now competing to earn a roster spot behind starters Derek Stingley and Steven Nelson. The other guys in the room are Shaquill Griffin, Ka’dar Hollman, D’Angelo Ross, Cobi Francis, and Desmond King.

5 Likely Landing Spots
Feb 2, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans head coach Demeco Ryans speaks to the media during his introductory press conference as general manager Nick Caserio (right) looks on at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports.

Ryans said after the Dantzler signing: “It is all up to the guy when you get added to a team. The roster is always evolving and things are always changing. It is all about how quickly the guy can adapt to the scheme and what we are asking him to do. It is all individual-based. And there are a few guys who can thrive in that.”

He has shown the ability to be a solid cornerback in the league and, at the very least, a depth piece, but he can’t stay on a team. Dantzler is 24 years old and is a long shot to make a 53-man roster, but the final play certainly helped him to continue his career.

NFL teams must trim the roster down to 53 players on Tuesday, and it remains to be seen if Dantzler has done enough to earn a spot. The Vikings have started cutting players.

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