Can the Vikings Make the Houston Replacements Work?

Houston Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard (52) celebrates a touchdown on a recovered fumble Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

This offseason, the Minnesota Vikings had a couple of different defensive holes to fill. Among their most prolific additions were a pair of former Houston Texans. With Jonathan Greenard taking over for Danielle Hunter and Blake Cashman slotted in to start alongside Ivan Pace Jr., can a pair of former teammates make it work in new digs?

Can the Vikings Make the Houston Replacements Work?

Of course, Johnathan Greenard is arguably the most important defensive acquisition of the offseason. Danielle Hunter went and got paid (coincidentally by the Texans), coming off a career year. Replacing that production level is not easy by any means, and Greenard is looking to fill the shoes of a fan favorite.

Green Bay Packers tackled Dennis Kelly (79) provides pass protection from Houston Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard (52) during their preseason game Saturday, August 14, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Houston Texans beat the Green Bay Packers 26-7. Packers15 22. © Milwaukee Journal SentinelMARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK.

For Greenard, success absolutely includes a double-digit sack total, and paired with either Andrew Van Ginkel or Dallas Turner, the Vikings edge rushers have to figure out a way to get pressure on the opposing quarterback. Brian Flores is a blitzing fiend, and the success of his unit largely relies on the sack masters getting home. Greenard experiencing another level in a new scheme wouldn’t be shocking, but Minnesota needs to see it happen.

Cashman spent the past two seasons with Houston after being drafted by the New York Jets. While he had three sacks two years ago, he established himself at the highest level last year. Starting 13 of the 14 games he played in, the Minnesota native recorded a whopping 106 tackles, with nine behind the line of scrimmage. He put up two sacks and hit the quarterback five times. Picking up his first career interception, he also had five passes defended.

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The Vikings saw Pace Jr. step up in a way that could not have been anticipated. While he was prioritized as an undrafted free agent, his presence on the defense elevated him to heights that could not have been predicted. Brian Asamoah watched the rookie come in and steal his thunder. Cashman will need to learn a new scheme and immediately compete if he is going to make his mark as well.

Hailing from Eden Prairie and playing for the Gophers, it’s easy to see how quickly Cashman will be praised. His production can take the fan excitement to new levels, though, and that’s what the Vikings are hoping for. Greenard will pick up the sack totals, and that’s always going to be a sexy stat.

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It remains to be seen how much he can mitigate the loss of Hunter, but the better job he does, the more fans will support the new faces. A pair of Texans are coming to Minnesota. They need to be great.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.