Battling a rib injury this week following his NFL debut against the Packers, Vikings rookie cornerback Cameron Dantzler has been officially ruled out of this Sunday’s game against the Colts.
The third-round pick out of Mississippi State landed on the Vikings’ injury report on Wednesday and Thursday with the rib injury he likely sustained against the Packers. After not practicing for a third straight day, the Vikings ruled him out.
The Vikings cornerbacks struggled against Aaron Rodgers last Sunday, but Dantzler was often in position to make plays and finished as the team’s top-performing corner, per Pro Football Focus.
First-round rookie Jeff Gladney likely moves into a role as the starting nickel cornerback, moving Mike Hughes to the outside along with fellow third-year corner Holton Hill. Gladney was on the injury report both Wednesday and Thursday with a knee injury but was a full participant.
The Vikings will also be without right guard Pat Elflein on Sunday, who was put on the injured reserve list on Wednesday and will be unavailable until Week 5. His injury is unknown as of Friday.
Check back later for more.
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Gladney’s Turn In the Fire
Gladney, picked No. 31 overall, played sparingly in the Vikings’ season opener. He was on the field for nine snaps on defense and six on special teams.
His limited usage may be part of his recovery from meniscus surgery he underwent during the offseason. Gladney played with the injury his senior year and even ran his 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine with his meniscus torn. Despite the injury, Gladney broke up a Big 12-best 15 passes in 2019, which ranked eighth nationally.
Fortunately for Gladney, his potential competition in the Colts wide receiving core is less competitive than the Packers’ group last week.
Vikings Corners Could Run Into Similar Troubles
Rodgers picked apart the Vikings defense by limiting the time he held the ball, holding it on average of just 2.25 seconds. The Vikings pressured Rodgers just seven times on 44 dropbacks.
On Sunday, Phillip Rivers may employ the same strategy as he averaged 2.27 seconds per release in Week 1, ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reported. The Colts also boast the best offensive line in the NFL, per PFF.
Defensive line coach Andre Patterson clarified that it wasn’t solely the defensive line’s fault for not getting pressure to Rodgers quickly.
“(Rodger’s) already in shotgun, he’s taking one step and he’s throwing it. So what’s got to happen is, we’ve got to be tighter in coverage to make him pull the ball down to give the rush a chance to get there,” Patterson said. “That’s why pass rush and coverage work hand in hand. In order for the rush to get there when a guy’s getting the ball out quick, we’ve got to make him hold the ball a little bit longer.”
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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.