One Prominent Viking Nearing Return; Another — Maybe Not

The Vikings Top Defensive Performers at Commanders, per PFF
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings’ defense ranks fifth in the NFL per DVOA, a total turnaround in 2023 from last year’s 24th ranking.

The personnel is somewhat similar, the coaching entirely different, and the product substantially enhanced.

One Prominent Viking Nearing Return; Another — Maybe Not

And when the 7-7 Vikings host the 10-4 Detroit Lions on Christmas Eve, one prominent Vikings defender could be back from an injured reserve stint while another’s is more mysterious.

Prominent Viking Nearing
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Linebacker Jordan Hicks was lost in early November to compartment syndrome, missing four games. Minnesota produced a 1-3 record with him. According to The Athletic’s Alec Lewis, though, Hicks could play this weekend.

“Vikings LB Jordan Hicks said today that he is working to play this weekend. He is about five weeks removed from compartment syndrome, suffered in Week 10 against the Saints. There’s no question his experience would help MN defense down the stretch,” Lewis tweeted Tuesday, five days before Vikings-Lions.

Vikings Retain Veteran
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Pro Football Focus considers Hicks the NFL’s 18th-best linebacker through 14 weeks with a 76.7 grade. He’s a captain, and after the Vikings handed the Cincinnati Bengals three touchdowns in a single quarter last Saturday, any defensive reinforcements will be welcomed.

On the other hand, the status of outside linebacker Marcus Davenport is more mysterious. Lewis tweeted Wednesday, “Asked Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell today about Marcus Davenport, who hasn’t played since Week 6 in Chicago. Had ankle surgery. KOC said Davenport has progressed, and Davenport was walking well in locker room today at minimum. Timing, of course, a factor.”

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

Indeed, that update sounded optimistic, but not everyone is buying it.

KSTP’s Darren Wolfson said on The Mackey and Judd Show about Davenport’s recovery on Tuesday, “There has been optimism in the building going back weeks that he will be back. He does have incentive to play. He gets paid these bonuses if he’s active, but there still is some desire questions there. Ultimately, it’s the player. The player has to want it. There are questions about the player’s want there.”

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

D.J. Wonnum has stepped up as a starter in Davenport’s stead and performed quite well. In fact, Wonnum has played so efficiently that many Vikings fans have forgotten about Davenport or at least stopped complaining about his IR status.

“I don’t foresee any scenario where Marcus Davenport is back in purple next year, but it sure would be nice to have him on the field at some point these last three games,” Wolfson added.

Ergo, for the Vikings’ pivotal Week 16 matchup with the Lions, Hicks’ stock is trending up, and Davenport’s is apparently idle.

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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