The Vikings Will Be Down a Defensive Lineman for Their Final 2 Games

Vikings Will Be Down a Defensive Lineman
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle James Lynch (92) tackles Las Vegas Raiders running back Brittain Brown (38) in the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings defense is no stranger to going into games shorthanded, and they may have to do so for the final stretch of the regular season. The Vikings will be down a defensive lineman for their final two games after James Lynch suffered a shoulder injury last weekend.

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Lynch, 23, has been a key rotational piece to the Vikings defense throughout the season, especially in stretches where Dalvin Tomlinson missed time with his calf injury. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Lynch is expected to spend the final two weeks rehabbing and hopefully be ready to return for the Vikings playoff run.

Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell confirmed later in the day that Lynch would be out at least this week in Green Bay when Minnesota takes on the Packers for the second time this season. Their first game occurred in Week 1 at U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Vikings won, 23-7. O’Connell described Lynch as “week-to-week” during his Monday press conference.

So far this season, the third-year defensive lineman has played all 15 games for the Vikings, including a pair of starts. In those games, he’s recorded 20 tackles, including 1 TFL. PFF believes he’s been an effective player as well, grading him at a respectable 65.0.

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Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle James Lynch. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

Lynch was selected by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and he has spent his first three years with the team. Overall, he’s appeared in 37 games, including three starts, and he’s recorded 53 tackles, 4 TFLs, 2.0 sacks, and a fumble recovery.

The Vikings still have plenty of veteran talent up front, including Harrison Phillips and the now-healthy Tomlinson, so the loss shouldn’t be as significant as it would have been a few weeks ago. However, with games against talented RB groups in Green Bay and Chicago remaining, these next two weeks will certainly be a test of Minnesota’s run defense.

This could also mean more playing time for someone like rookie Esezi Otomewo, who has played in each of the last three games for Minnesota. The sixth-round pick in 2022 has played 10+ snaps in every game he’s appeared in, and that number has steadily grown as each week passes. Look for him to be one of the main replacements for Lynch against the Packers.

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.