Vikings Latest Injury Is a Blow to Depth

The Most Challenging Game on Vikings 2022 Schedule
Jan 15, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; A Buffalo Bills fan. © Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

Through six days of the 2023 NFL regular season, the Minnesota Vikings don’t have much room for optimism, beginning the season with two losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles, mainly due to a fumbling problem.

Vikings Latest Injury Is a Blow to Depth

The Vikings have lost six fumbles so far, the most by a team in 20 years during the first two games of a season.

And the club’s outlook became even more bleak on Thursday night, losing backup offensive tackle Oli Udoh for the rest of the season.

Injury Is a Blow
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ESPN’s Kevin Seifert tweeted Friday, “Vikings OL Oli Udoh is out for the season because of a torn quad tendon, coach Kevin O’Connell announced. Udoh started last night for the injured Christian Darrisaw (ankle).”

While Udoh is not a starter, he is — or was — the primary reservist option for a club featuring a right tackle fresh off a partially torn Achilles tendon eight months ago (Brian O’Neill) and a left tackle beset by concussions last year and a nagging ankle this year (Christian Darrisaw).

Vikings OL Will Be Fine
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Udoh filled in admirably in 2022 when Darrisaw missed time with the concussion ailment, and Minnesota re-signed the longtime Viking accordingly last offseason. Now, he’ll be on the shelf for the rest of the season, decreasing depth for an offensive line already criticized for allowing Kirk Cousins to get walloped through two games.

In Udoh’s stead, the Vikings hope Darrisaw returns in eight days for Week 3, as Minnesota hosts the Los Angeles Chargers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Should Darrisaw be ready and healthy thereafter, Udoh’s absence is close to a nothingburger. Two upright tackles are the antidote to the Udoh injury.

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But those are best-laid plans and hopeful-maybes. The backup to the backup is David Quessenberry, an OT signed by the Vikings after roster trimdowns last month. Quessenberry, in a brief stretch of relief, actually performed quite well in Thursday night’s loss to the Eagles — and arguably better than Udoh.

Otherwise, Minnesota employs Blake Brandel, a tackle in 2022 who converted to offensive guard in the last few months. He can play OT in a pinch, in theory. Too, on the practice squad, the Vikings signed free agent Hakeem Adeniji around the same time Quessenberry joined the club. Adeniji could be called up to the active roster somewhat frequently if more OT injuries arise.

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle David Quessenberry (72) takes the field to face the Colts at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn. © Andrew Nelles / via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Since the NFL expanded its playoff format to six teams in 1990, 11.5% of teams that begin a season with a 0-2 record have qualified for the postseason. In franchise history, the Vikings have turned a 0-2 start into a playoff appearance just once — in 2008.

Udoh will turn 27 in February.

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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