Vikings Secondary Takes Big Hit as Starter Heads to IR

Jul 29, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

After leaving last weekend’s game against the Washington Commanders with an ankle injury, it seems the ailment has not progressed as the week goes along. Dantzler sat out all of this week’s practice in preparation for the Buffalo Bills. Now, the Vikings secondary takes a big hit as starting CB Cam Dantzler heads to injured reserve. He will miss at least the next four games.

This move seemed inevitable after the Vikings signed Duke Shelley off the practice squad to the active roster. Shelley had been activated from the practice squad only twice, and these players are allowed to be activated three times before being signed to the roster.

If the Vikings had anticipated Dantzler missing just one week, it made more sense to simply activate Shelley one more time. Instead, Shelley gets the new contract and Dantzler misses four games.

This is a particularly poor time for the Vikings CB2 to be missing an extended period. The next four games on the schedule are key to finding out whether or not the Vikings are true contenders in the NFC, and three of them occur over an 11-day period. The games are as follows:

  • Week 10 @ Buffalo (11/13)
  • Week 11 vs. Dallas (11/20)
  • Week 12 vs. New England (11/24)
  • Week 13 vs. NY Jets (12/4)

These four teams have a combined record of 23-11, and if the regular season ended today, all three of Buffalo, Dallas, and New York would be playoff teams. New England sits half a game out of the seventh and final seed in the AFC. Minnesota also

During his third NFL season, Dantzler has been a bright spot on the Vikings defense. The third-round pick of the 2020 NFL Draft has been a steady starter through the first eight games in 2022, and he has recorded 45 tackles, including a pair of TFLs. He’s also had four pass defenses while forcing and recovering the game-winning fumble against the Chicago Bears in Week 5.

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Luckily for the Vikings, they could have found a viable replacement in the second half of last week’s game. Akayleb Evans stepped in and played a crucial role in Minnesota’s comeback victory over Washington.

Granted, Buffalo’s offense is far superior to Washington’s, especially if Josh Allen plays, but Evans remains a glimmer of hope. Additionally, Andrew Booth could finally return to the field this week, and perhaps he can take some of the defensive duties against Buffalo’s receiver group.

Either way, the Vikings find themselves with a massive test on Sunday, and they will go about it without one of their key starters. Kickoff between the Vikings and Bills is set for 12 PM CST on Sunday.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.