Opportunity Awaits for 3 Young Viking Defenders in Week 18
The Minnesota Vikings are preparing for their regular season finale on Sunday.
Heading into the game, especially on the defensive side of the ball, Minnesota will be going deep into their depth chart to find production. Multiple starters have been ruled out for this game, so opportunity awaits for three young Viking defenders. Can these players make one more positive impression during the 2023 season?
CB Andrew Booth
The Vikings will be without Byron Murphy for another game this weekend while Mekhi Blackmon is also out with a shoulder injury. These are two premier pieces in Minnesota’s secondary, and the defense will need depth pieces to step up this weekend.
One of those depth pieces is second-year player Andrew Booth, who the Vikings selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Booth has not been a feature in Minnesota’s defense much over his first two seasons, and he has started just one game. If Blackmon is unable to go, the Clemson product could be poised to make his second career start against a talented group of Lions receivers.
OLB Pat Jones
The Vikings lost D.J. Wonnum to a partially torn quad back in Week 16, and the next man up on the depth chart is third-year pass-rusher Pat Jones.
Jones has not had a great season (he remains one of the lowest graded pass-rushers according to PFF), but there were signs of improvement during Week 16 against the Lions. The 2021 third-round pick put together three tackles for loss and a sack in Minnesota’s loss versus Detroit. Hopefully, he can prove to be equally effective this time around.
OLB Andre Carter
The Vikings signed Andre Carter as an undrafted free agent this spring. He brought raw talent to the roster, but for much of the season, he has not seen playing time with the defense. However, after Wonnum’s injury, Carter saw a career-high 19 defensive snaps on Sunday night against the Packers.
All of Marcus Davenport, Danielle Hunter, and Wonnum are set to hit free agency this offseason, so this weekend serves as one more chance for the undrafted rookie to make a statement that he truly belongs in the Vikings’ future plans at the outside linebacker spot.
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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.