Vikings Set to Get Corner Help on Sunday

Be Slept
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The big storylines in the leadup to the Minnesota Vikings’ return from a bye week focused on Josh Dobbs and Justin Jefferson. Understandably, those two players would draw the headlines, but cornerback Akayleb Evans is set to make his return as well.

Vikings Set to Get Corner Help on Sunday

Last season, Kevin O’Connell’s team was among the worst in the NFL regarding defensive excellence. Ed Donatell looked like a candidate to be fired at multiple points throughout the season and had the Vikings not kept winning in spite of his defense, he would have been. Ultimately, Donatell made it through the season before Minnesota opted to make a change on the defensive side.

Corner Help
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores takes over the team’s defense at an introductory press conference on February 15th, 2023, in Eagan, Minnesota.

Arguably the biggest free agent acquisition of the offseason came in the form of Brian Flores taking over as O’Connell’s defensive coordinator. A former head coach with highly praised defensive acumen, the former Bill Belichick disciple was going to turn things on their head in Minnesota.

So far that has taken place. The Vikings’ defense has done a 180, and despite having uncertainty at the cornerback position when going into the year, the unit has stepped up in a big way. Now they’ll get the return of blossoming star Akayleb Evans.

Out since the contest against the New Orleans Saints, Evans has missed games against the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears. The calf injury that had him shelved has now been overcome, and he was a full practice participant on Wednesday. That puts him on track to be back in the starting lineup on Sunday, and that isn’t good news for Aiden O’Connell or the Raiders wide receivers.

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Evans has yet to come up with his first career interception, but he started each of the first ten games this season. He is also just a single tackle away from 50 on the year and has already forced three fumbles. After emerging as a legitimate option against the Washington Guardians last season, Evans has only continued to develop and make noise on the field.

Minnesota comes into Sunday’s contest against the Raiders as three-point favorites, and while it will be interesting to see how much of a turnaround the offense can make, a strong defensive effort will also need to take place. Flores has had two weeks to prepare his unit for what Las Vegas brings to the table, and adding talent in the form of Evans is hardly a bad thing.

CB2 Mystery
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Sunday’s tilt is shaping up to be one of adding talent back in. With Evans joining Jefferson back on the field, the Vikings appear to be getting healthy at the right time. If they could get Jordan Hicks back, too, the defense gets infused with even more returning talent. Only five games remain for Minnesota in the regular season, and if they’re going to make the playoffs, they’ll need to put the best foot forward and be the most complete team on the field each week.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.