Vikings Starter Returns to Practice

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Inch by inch, the Minnesota Vikings are returning to full health, relatively speaking, with the notable emergence of pass rush Marcus Davenport last weekend at the Carolina Panthers.

And like Davenport’s trend to play and eventual appearance, center Garrett Bradbury is nearing a return to the field.

Vikings Starter Returns to Practice

Bradbury played the first seven plays of the 2023 regular season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and succumbed to a back injury, sending him to the injury report since.

Vikings Starter Returns
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ESPN’s Kevin Seifert tweeted Wednesday afternoon, “Vikings C Garrett Bradbury was again at practice today. Kevin O’Connell didn’t commit to Bradbury playing this week, but there do not appear to be any setbacks. RT Brian O’Neill and LB Jordan Hicks appeared to be getting veteran rest days.”

Bradbury rejoined the Vikings in March for three years and $15.75 million in free agency. After a rocky start to his career via pass protection, the North Carolina State alumnus began to right the ship with a new coaching staff led by Kevin O’Connell in 2022. He was on deck to return as Minnesota’s starting center in 2023 and beyond, but the back injury delayed the plan.

Labeled Deep
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In relief of Bradbury, veteran Austin Schlottmann has performed admirably, banking a 64.7 Pro Football Focus grade and ranking 12th-best in the NFL among all centers. His 71.6 pass-blocking score is particularly impressive and a change of pace from Bradbury, who specializes in run-blocking.

While the Vikings have missed Bradbury, a long-term starter, Schlottmann has not played like a significant downgrade, which is good news for Minnesota.

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The Vikings spent 1st-Round draft capital on Bradbury four years ago, making him the highest-drafted center in about 20 years. Usually, when centers go off the board in Round 1, they’re expected to morph into Pro Bowl-caliber talents, but Bradbury has not yet effectuated that ceiling. Perhaps more time within O’Connell’s system will do the trick. We shall see.

Minnesota’s offensive line ranks 22nd in the business per PFF, a low ranking for a unit containing Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill on the edges. The Vikings have also surrendered the most QB hits leaguewide after Week 4, allowing quarterback Kirk Cousins to get smacked 24 times or 6 per game.

the Vikings Last 5
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The Vikings host the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday, presumably with Bradbury in the lineup, and are four-points underdogs.

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