Vikings Fans May Just Have to Wait on Dalton Risner

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The Minnesota Vikings added offensive guard Dalton Risner to the depth chart two weeks ago, and the man has yet to take a snap on offense in purple clothes.

Vikings Fans May Just Have to Wait on Dalton Risner

And Risner’s acclimation to the Vikings may stay that way, according to head coach Kevin O’Connell, although the Vikings skipper says the team is in neverending evaluation mode regarding the trenches.

Just Have to Wait
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Minnesota finally notched a win over the weekend, downing the Carolina Panthers on the road 21-13, courtesy of some nifty opportunistic defense and two touchdown grabs by reigning Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson.

In theory, when the Vikings are ready to use Risner, he’d take second-year lineman Ed Ingram’s spot on the offensive line. But other than one awful transaction Sunday, Ingram mostly held up. That may delay Risner’s insertion into the starting lineup — if it happens at all.

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Star Tribune‘s Andrew Krammer tweeted Monday afternoon, “O’Connell said he has ‘liked the way those guys have responded’ when asked about sticking with same OL and keeping Dalton Risner on bench. Said they’ll continue to evaluate.”

If Risner were on the way to the starting lineup, O’Connell’s verbiage probably would’ve been more diplomatic or noncommittal. The young head coach liked what he saw from the offensive line at Carolina, meaning the chances of Ingram-to-the-bench are somewhat low.

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Ingram, a second-year starter, fetched a 64.1 Pro Football Focus grade (which is akin to Risner’s career output), plowed running lanes quite well — that’s his modus operandi — and gave up one crucial pressure that caused this dying-duck interception by Kirk Cousins.

The working theory from the pro-Risner crowd, or never-Ingram faction, is that Risner would not have allowed such a sin to transpire, and Ingram’s positives don’t overrule Risner’s upside. While that could be true, the Vikings coaching staff may not be on the cusp of “giving up” on Ingram, a 2nd-Round draft pick 17 months ago.

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O’Connell said before Week 4 that Ingram had produced “really good weeks,” and “We’re really seeing the hope of a competitive situation pushing everybody to be better.”

Predictably, after the errant Cousins interception + Ingram allowed-pressure in Carolina, Vikings fans called for Risner’s substitution, almost in mass fashion. The ex-Denver Bronco signed with the Vikings for one year and up to $4 million, a salary generally congruent with a starting job.

Minnesota’s assignment in Week 5 gets more daunting than Week 4 — by a mile. With the 0-4 Panthers off the board, the Super Bowl champion and Taylor Swift-infused Kansas City Chiefs arrive at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Chiefs defense ranks fifth in the NFL through Week 4 per EPA/Play. Carolina ranks 21st.

It’s still possible for Risner to join the starting OL fivesome, but all signs point to Ingram once again.

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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