Vikings Add New Pass Rusher

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On Monday, Minnesota Vikings pass rusher Benton Whitley was stolen from the practice squad by the New York Giants. And before that, outside linebacker Luiji Vilain was pilfered from the same spot by the Carolina Panthers.

Vikings Add New Pass Rusher

So, the Vikings’ EDGE-rushing depth became a bit skimpy, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took steps to remedy that by adding 27-year-old Austin Bryant on Tuesday.

Vikings Add New Pass
Detroit Lions linebacker Austin Bryant (94) during the first half of a preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. © Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

The club announced the move after Whitley’s departure, and Bryant will join the practice squad while veteran wideout Dan Chisena left the roster to make room.

Selected by the Detroit Lions in Round 4 of the 2019 NFL Draft, Bryant spent all four years of his rookie contract on the Vikings’ rival’s roster but was not re-signed last offseason. Instead, Bryant joined the San Francisco 49ers’ roster in March and stayed until last week. He was released on November 15th, and six days later, Bryant joined the Vikings.

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Bryant has played 35 career games as a pro, starting 6, and has 66 tackles, 11 QB hits, 7 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. All told, he’s played 1,025 defensive snaps in 4.5 seasons, plus 168 special teams plays. Bryant last played in the 49ers’ Week 5 spanking of the Dallas Cowboys, experiencing late-game action in a 42-10 win.

Here’s Bryant’s Pro Football Focus resume to date:

  • 2019 = 54.5
  • 2020 = 54.8
  • 2021 = 54.5
  • 2022 = 51.2
  • 2023 = 69.6 (Limited playing time)
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Whether Bryant elevates to the gameday roster in 2023 remains to be seen, but the man has somewhat ample experience in the last half-decade. For now, the Vikings employ Danielle Hunter, D.J. Wonnum, Patrick Jones, and Andre Carter for outside linebacking responsibilities, and veteran Marcus Davenport may return sometime after the bye week.

The man Bryant is replacing, the aforementioned Whitley, played just one defensive snap for Minnesota — way back in Week 1.

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Bryant won an NCAA National Championship in 2018, part of the same Clemson team that showcased Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Dexter Lawrence, and Isaiah Simmons, among others. He joined the NFL the same day Minnesota drafted offensive lineman Oli Udoh.

The Vikings’ defense has hit its stride in the last month and a half, climbing the NFL’s ranks with a No. 9 placement after Week 11 per DVOA. At the moment, Brian Flores’ defense lives in a production and efficiency spot with the 49ers (No. 8 per DVOA) and Lions (No. 10), Bryant’s two former teams.

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