The Vikings announced Monday afternoon that Pat Elflein and Troy Dye will both be designated to return from IR. Elflein has been out since September with a thumb injury, and Dye has been out with a foot injury.
It is unclear if Elflein will be cleared to play on Sunday, or if he’ll need more practice time. One thing that is clear is that the Vikings could certainly use him. If he does in fact return to the line this Sunday, he will greatly help in defending Green Bay’s interior rush against the likes of Kingsley Keke, Tyler Lancaster, and Kenny Clark.
To this point in the season without Elflein, the Vikings’ guard play has been pretty terrible. Dakota Dozier has posted a PFF grade of 50.5, good (or bad?) for 69th among guards, and Dru Samia has graded 33.3, ranking dead last among the 77 qualified guards. Meanwhile, Keke has posted an interior rushing grade of 75.5, Lancaster has graded 74.4, and Clark has graded 62.5.
For comparison’s sake, Elflein graded 64.7 last season, which would rank 30th this season among guards. Still not great, but certainly better than the production that Minnesota has gotten from Samia at the position to this point in the season.
Elflein has not played since week one’s season opener which also happened to be against Green Bay. In that game, the Vikings gave up two sacks of Kirk Cousins. If Elflein does need an extra week, he’ll be greeted by the Lions and Da’Shawn Hand, who is one of the best defensive linemen against the run.
Also worth noting, the Vikings have claimed former Lions CB Chris Jones off waivers and signed CB Mark Fields II from the practice squad. These moves come with looming questions surrounding the health of Mike Hughes, and these signings only make the concerns larger.