Vikings Defender Suffered Season-Ending Injury in Practice

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The Minnesota Vikings are currently preparing for the regular season that kicks off on September 10th with a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Health is an important part to be a successful NFL team and the Vikings were one of the luckier teams early in the training camp process, especially when Trishton Jackson avoided a serious knee injury. But now the first significant injury happened.

Vikings Defender Suffered Season-Ending Injury in Practice

Vikings Defender Suffered Season-Ending Injury in Practice
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Defensive tackle James Lynch is out for the season after tearing his ACL in Thursday’s night practice, Tom Pelissero reported: “Vikings DT James Lynch tore his ACL in practice Thursday and will undergo season-ending surgery, per source. A fourth-round pick in 2020, Lynch has played in 37 games over three seasons in Minnesota. He’ll have time to get healthy before hitting free agency in March.”

A big blow to one of the weaker spots on Minnesota’s roster but an even bigger blow for the defender. He was part of a group that was expected to replace Dalvin Tomlinson who left in free agency. Unfortunately, the Vikings will have to fill that void without Lynch.

The defender was entering his fourth campaign with the Vikings, the final of his rookie deal. A 2020 fourth-round pick, Lynch was a college standout at Baylor, earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2019. He was also named unanimous first-team All-American after recording 13.5 sacks in his junior season.

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As an undersized defensive tackle, Lynch was considered a project who had to get his body right to be productive at the next level but he was a rotational player in all three seasons, appearing in 37 games, starting three of them.

He was on the field on 640 defensive snaps throughout his tenure with the team and recorded 2 sacks and 53 tackles. The injury threw a monkey wrench into his plan to explode in his contract year to earn another deal from the Vikings or hit free agency with a bunch of suitors.

The Vikings also need to replace him. Harrison Phillips and Khyiris Tonga are expected to be the top two defensive tackles, followed by free-agent addition Dean Lowry. Phillips the arguably the best defensive lineman in Minnesota. Tonga had a wonderful 2022 breakout season but the sample size was relatively small. He must show that he is actually that good, no matter the number of plays.

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Ross Blacklock and Jonathan Bullard also return from the 2022 team. Blacklock was a trade acquisition but underwhelmed throughout his first campaign with the Vikings while Bullard surprisingly won the starting job but the arrival of ex-Packer Lowry could hurt him.

Esezi Otomewo was a fifth-round selection last year. The former Gopher has always been viewed as a project because of a position change. He was used on the edge in college. He played in five games and 89 snaps. Brian Flores must decide if Ed Donatell’s project improved and is worth a roster spot.

Sheldon Day was on the Vikings practice squad last season but didn’t play in a game. He has a lot of experience. Day had stints with the Jaguars, 49ers, Colts, and Browns and started three of his 67 career games. T.J. Smith was on the practice squad for two years and played in two games.

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General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah also added a pair of rookies. Jaquelin Roy, a fifth-round pick out of LSU, is a talented player. Minnesota traded up to get him. In the pre-draft process, he drew some comparisons to ex-Viking Dalvin Tomlinson.

Undrafted rookie Calvin Avery has a long way to go, like every UDFA, but he is a large human being – 6-1 and 343 pounds. Humans that size don’t come around very often. It might be his ticket to the team.

It will be an interesting story to watch in the upcoming weeks who will step up and earn a meaningful role on the defensive line without Lynch in the mix.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt