It Was a Tough Outing for Vikings Rookie in First Start

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

Sunday Night was a tough outing for Mekhi Blackmon in his first start. He had the chance to push for a starting role on the Vikings’ defense, deputizing for the injured Akayleb Evans.

It Was a Tough Outing for Vikings Rookie in First Start

Blackmon’s opportunity coming due to an injury is a familiar theme this season across the whole Vikings roster. Akayleb Evans left a game due to injury for the second time this season last Sunday. On both occasions, Blackmon stepped in and impressed, but this time, the opportunity was to be the starting outside corner. Blackmon played on 53 of the 55 defensive snaps — he got the full starter’s experience.

was a tough outing
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The experienced duo of Broncos head coach Sean Payton and QB Russell Wilson unsurprisingly looked to pick on the rookie starter. They did so with a good deal of success, with all six targets sent in Blackmon’s direction, resulting in completed passes worth 69 yards and the all-important Broncos touchdown. Blackmon was “Moss’d” by Broncos WR Courtland Sutton. The Vikings rookie made a play to punch the ball away, but the 6’4, 216 lbs Denver WR is one of the best in the business at competing for the contested high ball.

Blackmon wasn’t egregiously bad on the night. but he wasn’t as good as we saw in his cameos. Pro Football Focus gave him an overall grade of 64.2 and a coverage grade of 65.6. He once again showcased his tackling ability with seven tackles. Should Evans miss more games, Blackmon will still be the next man up. Evans received an MRI following the Saints game after having a “burning” feeling in his calf. The results showed just a strain, but it remains to be seen when Evans returns to full fitness.

Next Up Is Chicago

Whether Evans is ready to return, Blackmon will still see plenty of playing time as the Vikings play in front of the primetime cameras again this week. Minnesota is back at U.S. Bank Stadium for some Monday night football. Divisional for the Chicago Bears come to town, once again led by Justin Fields. The Bears QB returned last week against the Detroit Lions for the first time since dislocating his thumb in the reverse fixture.

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Fields played well on his return and refound the chemistry he has been building with Chicago’s star WR D.J. Moore — seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. The Bears looked set to upset the division leaders until an end-of-game collapse. One of the Bears’ problems is that the rest of the offense only managed  73 receiving yards between them outside of Moore. Fields is, of course, a problem on the ground that has to be accounted for, but the Bears passing game relies so heavily on Moore.

Fields also had severe difficulty with the Vikings’ defense before being knocked out of the previous game with the injury. Brian Flores’ defense is a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks to decipher. The blitz rate is phenomenally high, but the Vikings rarely blitz everyone. Everyone goes up, some blitz, and some drop into coverage. It’s extremely difficult to know where the pressure is coming from. Better and more experienced quarterbacks than Fields have had nightmares trying to work it out.

What Blackmon’s role will be on Monday night remains to be seen but don’t expect the Vikings coaching staff to have lost trust in him. They will be ready to send him in when needed.


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