Vikings Rookie Is Back after Brief Absence

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The Minnesota Vikings depth chart is starting to take shape, with two weeks of training camp in the books.

The club heads to Seattle this Thursday for a preseason showdown with the Seahawks, where all Vikings starters are expected to sit.

Vikings Rookie Is Back after Brief Absence

Meanwhile, Vikings fans received encouraging news Saturday, as undrafted free-agent outside linebacker Andre Carter II was cleared to return to the practice field. Carter II was dealing with an unknown ailment and missed training camp’s first two weeks.

Back after Brief
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Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling tweeted on the X app Saturday, “The Vikings announced rookie linebacker Andre Carter II, who was on the physically-unable-to-perform list, has passed his physical. He’s been cleared to practice with the team.”

The Army alumnus made headlines in late April by joining the Vikings on a sizable UDFA deal worth $300,000 with a $40,000 signing bonus. That level of cash isn’t typically afforded to undrafted players, so Minnesota meant business by securing Carter II for the long haul.

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And the young defender will vie for a roster spot and playing time inside a Brian Flores-led defense that will take all the help it can get in rushing opposing quarterbacks. Minnesota said goodbye to Za’Darius Smith in May via trade to the Cleveland Browns, and his replacement, Marcus Davenport, is somewhat of a mystery heading into 2023. Davenport notched just 0.5 sacks in 2022, a menial figure for a starting EDGE rusher.

The hope for Carter II is development and ‘upside.’ His undrafted situation surprised many draft heads in April as most believed he should’ve at least been selected in later rounds, but no cigar for the 23-year-old.

Image Courtesy of From left to right: André Carter, André Carter II & Melissa Carter. The Vikings discovered Andre Carter II via undrafted free agency in 2023, and the Army alumnus will vie for a roster spot at training camp and in the preseason.

Carter II also grabbed attention on Bruce Feldman’s famous Freak List heading into the draft. Feldman wrote about Carter II, “What a gem Army found at Connecticut’s Cheshire Academy in Carter, at the time a two-star tight end prospect. Now a 6-7, 260-pound senior with a 6-10 wingspan, Carter piled up 18.5 TFLs, 15.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2021.”

The consensus on Carter II’s lack of draft attention is a bit vague, but most believe his size — or perceived lankiness — discouraged general managers from calling his name. His strength may need enhancement as an NFL pass rusher, although Army moved Carter II all over the defense.

Why 1 Unsung
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Then, he showed up to Vikings training camp last week and very visibly didn’t look skinny, lanky, or anything of the sort. In fact, he’s huge.

Carter II should be on the field soon at Vikings training camp, and fans are welcome to attend in Eagan on Monday (daytime) and Tuesday (evening), the final two open-to-the-public events before Thursday’s preseason tryst in Seattle.

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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