Vikings Newcomer in Line to Start on MNF

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings fans asked for it, and they’re most likely getting it.

Just not in the exact outcome they envisioned.

Vikings Newcomer in Line to Start on MNF

Minnesota signed free-agent guard Dalton Risner one month ago, and since, the team’s faithful have feverishly asked to see the lineman on the field — at Ed Ingram’s spot.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, Ingram has markedly improved in the last three games, and left guard Ezra Cleveland is injured, so The Risner Show will likely unfold this Monday night with Risner at LG in place of Cleveland.

Cleveland, who has performed magnificently in 2023, did not practice Friday because of a foot injury suffered at the Chicago Bears last weekend, a signal he’ll miss the Monday Night Football tryst with the San Francisco 49ers.

Newcomer in Line
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

If that hypothesis holds, the Vikings offensive tenches will look like this Monday evening:

  • LT: Christian Darrisaw
  • LG: Dalton Risner
  • C: Garrett Bradbury
  • RG: Ed Ingram
  • RT: Brian O’Neill

The assignment makes sense, too, for Risner, whose resume mostly consists of left guard snaps. Theoretically, he could play right guard if Ingram struggled tremendously, but getting action at left guard is more familiar.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Meanwhile, the Vikings offensive line is suddenly dominant, according to Pro Football Focus. In a parade-worthy turn of events for Vikings fans, the club’s offensive trenches have finally stabilized after years of hardship. Through Week 6, Minnesota ranks tops in the business per offensive line run-blocking and third in pass protection. Whoodathunkit?

We shall see if the performance dips, but Risner should be one of the best reservist OG options in the NFL filling in for Cleveland.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.’

The bittersweet news? The 49ers defensive front is one of the best in the sport, perhaps only rivaled by the Philadelphia Eagles. Life without Cleveland, but with Risner, will be put to an immediate test for a Vikings team that desperately must avoid a 2-5 start to the season.

Cleveland is playing on the final year of his contract, and it is unclear if the Vikings will unload a hefty paycheck for his next deal in March. In that vein, Risner could audition on the fly for a 2024 starter’s job if Minnesota prefers a more affordable option.

Risner played 10 offensive snaps at Soldier Field on Sunday when Cleveland left the game, tallying a 56.5 PFF grade in the limited sample. His 78.4 pass-blocking score was particularly encouraging.

The Vikings have never lost four home games to start a season, a streak in jeopardy on Monday night.

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