The Minnesota Vikings are already starting training camp shorthanded.
The Vikings placed their top two undrafted rookies on the active/non-football injury list on Tuesday, following the news that the Vikings’ expected starting nose tackle will opt out of the 2020 season due to respiratory problems.
Rookie cornerback Nevelle Clarke and wide receiver Quartney Davis were both placed on the list and were considered top undrafted prospects at their respective positions. The Vikings did not specify how either player was hurt, but Clarke said his injury goes back to a practice a week before the start of his final season at Central Florida, per the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson.
Clarke and Davis were the Vikings’ most valuable undrafted rookie free agents as the team bid $115,000 and $100,000, respectively, which is guaranteed to them. Any player on the active/non-injury list remains there until healthy enough to practice, according to the Star Tribune. If still on the list by Sept. 5, a player is transitioned to the injured reserve list, which requires they miss at least six weeks of the regular season. Clarke and Davis are expected to compete in training camp, but it’s unclear when.
Michael Pierce, a nose tackle the Vikings signed off free agency to a three-year, $27 million contract to replace Linval Joseph in the starting lineup, opted out yesterday as a high-risk opt out under the NFL’s new guidelines during the pandemic. He will receive a $350,000 stipend and his contract will toll to next season. Pierce suffers from asthma and has had bouts of pneumonia in the past three years.
The Vikings currently have 82 players on their active roster after Tuesday’s developments and Monday’s news of four rookies being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. The team will have to cut the roster down to 80 by Aug. 16.
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Given the report of Clarke’s injury that he played through last season, he’s likely to join the Vikings once practice begins if he hasn’t had any setbacks during the offseason. When the two players arrive they’ll join two of the most-heated position battles in training camp.
Clarke will be among four rookie cornerbacks that enter a cornerback group that has few answers outside of third-year corners Mike Hughes and Holton Hill. First-round pick Jeff Gladney and third-rounder Cameron Dantzler are favorites to join the roster, but outside those two the additional roster spots are wide open.
Davis was considered a better wide receiver prospect than fifth-round pick K.J. Osborn, who was drafted for his potential as a returner as well. Davis has a shot to assert himself into the wide receiver group that includes first-rounder Justin Jefferson and veterans Tajaé Sharpe, Chad Bebee and Olabisi Johnson.
Both players are long shots to make the roster in their first season but could be practice squad candidates as they continue their development.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.