Veteran Viking Formally Hits Injured Reserve

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings fans react during the fourth quarter during a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

On Monday, news hit the digital stratosphere that the Minnesota Vikings would sign veteran offensive guard Dalton Risner. The team made it official on Tuesday. Risner is a Viking.

Veteran Viking Formally Hits Injured Reserve

The corresponding move, however, was a bit depressing and a formality from Thursday Night Football fallout.

The Athletic’s Alec Lewis tweeted on the X app, “Oli Udoh, who suffered a quad tendon tear against Philly, was placed on IR.”

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Olisaemeka Udoh (74) is injured against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

The veteran Viking will miss the team’s remaining 15 games in 2023 and likely miss the postseason — if Minnesota rights the ship at all after an 0-2 start.

Udoh replaced one of the elite linemen in the game when Brian O’Neill went down with an injury in Week 17 in Green Bay last year. Earlier in the season, Udoh wasn’t even the primary backup, as the team inserted Blake Brandel into the lineup when Christian Darrisaw missed time. However, Brandel was hurt with a torn MCL, so Udoh was the next man up. And in the three games, Udoh allowed exactly one quarterback pressure in each game, a commendable stat. 

Veteran Viking Formally
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (99) sacks Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond (11) as 49ers defensive end Drake Jackson (95) and Vikings guard Olisaemeka Udoh (74) look on during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Before 2022, Udoh’s stock was actually quite low, especially among fans. The Vikings coaching regime before Kevin O’Connell’s flipped Udoh to right guard from offensive tackle, an unnatural position for the Elon alumnus. Udoh struggled at guard and was most famous for penalties, recording the second-most in the NFL in 2021.

But when O’Connell came to town, he immediately swapped Udoh back to tackle, and as a backup to O’Neill, the plan emphatically worked. Here’s Udoh’s Pro Football Focus tale of the tape since joining the Vikings in the 6th Round of the 2019 NFL Draft:

  • 2019 = 53.4
  • 2020 = 60.8
  • 2021 = 54.4 (RG)
  • 2022 = 73.6
  • 2023 = 52.4 (1.5 games)
Vikings OL Will Be Fine
Aug 27, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Oli Udoh (74) stretches before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

While Udoh is not a starter, he is — or was — the primary reservist option for a club featuring a right tackle fresh off a partially torn Achilles tendon eight months ago (O’Neill) and a left tackle beset by concussions last year and a nagging ankle this year (Darrisaw).

In Udoh’s stead, the Vikings hope Darrisaw returns in five days for Week 3, as Minnesota hosts the Los Angeles Chargers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Should Darrisaw be ready and healthy thereafter, Udoh’s absence is close to a footnote. Two upright tackles are the antidote to the Udoh injury.

Yet, those are best-laid plans and hopeful-maybes. The backup to the backup is David Quessenberry, an OT signed by the Vikings after roster trimdowns last month. Quessenberry, in a brief stretch of relief, actually performed quite well in Thursday night’s loss to the Eagles — and arguably better than Udoh.

Aug 19, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on during the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Otherwise, Minnesota employs Blake Brandel, a tackle in 2022 who converted to offensive guard in the last few months. He can play OT in a pinch, in theory. Too, on the practice squad, the Vikings signed free agent Hakeem Adeniji around the same time Quessenberry joined the club. Adeniji could be called up to the active roster somewhat frequently if more OT injuries arise.

Adding Risner increased the Vikings offensive line depth on the whole, but he hasn’t played tackle in his career.

Udoh is scheduled to become a free agent in March.

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