Vikings Will Again Be Shorthanded on Defense vs. LAC

Sep 23, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view outside U.S. Bank Stadium and ship. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The streak continues, and it’s not a good one.

Newcomer free-agent Marcus Davenport will miss Sunday’s Week 3 game for the Minnesota Vikings, a do-or-die matchup between two 0-2 teams (Los Angeles Chargers) hoping to avoid a dreaded 0-3 hole. He’s still nursing an ankle injury.

Vikings Will Again Be Shorthanded on Defense vs. LAC

Davenport, an outside linebacker, has essentially missed all three Vikings games in 2023 after joining the club as one of its keynote free-agent additions six months ago. The ex-New Orleans Saint played four first-quarter snaps in Week 2 against the Eagles but quickly headed back to the sidelines, and that was that.

Be Shorthanded
Sep 25, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) rushes off the field against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports.

Center Garrett Bradbury is questionable for Sunday.

The Vikings will again turn to pass rushers D.J. Wonnum and Pat Jones in Davenport’s stead, although, according to Pro Football Focus, neither has made much of an impact through two games:

Vikings PFF Grades,
Through Week 2:

D.J. Wonnum (55.2)
Pat Jones II (27.9)

Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas-San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport arrives on the red carpet before the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

Thankfully for Minnesota’s sake, Davenport’s teammate, Danielle Hunter, leads the NFL in sacks (4.0) and tackles for loss (5.0) heading into Week 3, so the pressure upfront in Brian Flores’ defense hasn’t been woeful. At some point, though, the Vikings need Davenport on the other edge to complement Hunter. That’s a reasonable ask for a man on a one-year deal at $13 million.

Davenport was signed in March to fill the Za’Darius Smith or Everson Griffen role from recent Vikings history, but to date, he hasn’t experienced meaningful playing time. Of course, the ankle injury isn’t his fault, nor should he be criticized, yet on the field, Minnesota needs reinforcements.

Vikings Latest Free
Oct 20, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The 2023 season is still new, and Wonnum or Jones could bust out at any time with a mammoth performance. Wonnum is a reasonably steady contributor, and Jones II showed flashes of promise in 2022, especially in a game at the Miami Dolphins last October. But on the depth chart, Wonnum and Jones II are reservist EDGE rushers, supporting Hunter and Davenport at spots in games. For now, Wonnum and Jones II are called upon to play starters’ minutes, a plan probably not as fruitful as a healthy Davenport would be.

The Vikings also employ rookie EDGE rusher Andre Carter on the roster, and sooner or later, he could see some action if Davenport’s absence persists.

Contribution from Free
Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Marcus Davenport addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Davenport joined the Vikings in March of 2023 after four seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

Davenport has missed about 30% of all career games due to injury. He fetched a 76.8 PFF score when healthy in 2022.

Left tackle Christian Darrisaw was not on the Vikings final Week 3 injury report, indicating he’ll return from an ankle injury.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by