The third-year cornerback was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills on November 11 with an ankle injury, only to be placed on the injured reserve list the following day, per a team release.
Dantzler’s placement on the injured reserve list forces him out for at least the next four games before he is eligible to be activated to the 53-man roster.
His stint on the list could also be longer than the minimum for games.
Rookie Akayleb Evans in Line for 1st Career Start
Fourth-round rookie Akayleb Evans will make his first career start on Sunday against the Bills.
Evans, who shined in the preseason, stepped in admirably for Dantzler last week against the Washington Commanders. He tallied four tackles, two for a loss, and a fourth-down pass breakup on Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin to force a turnover on downs in the third quarter.
“I just wanted to be aggressive,” Evans said in a November 10 press conference. “That was the mindset. I took him across the field and hung with it. I saw the quarterback get rid of it and was in a good position to knock it down.”
“I thought Akayleb, between the physicality that he showed on some tackles against some good backs in space, and then just knowing the type of player that Terry McLaurin and some of their other guys are, I felt like he really had an impact in there,” head coach Kevin O’Connell said in a postgame press conference. “And it seemed like he was incredibly comfortable in that moment.”
Evans, approaching his first career start, intends to have that same fire he showed last Sunday.
“Whenever an opportunity is presented, you have to take advantage of it,” Evans said. “I feel like you shouldn’t have fear in your heart. You have to trust in your ability and your skill set and put it to the test.”
2nd-Round Rookie Andrew Booth Jr. Still Not Seeing Defensive Snap
Evans will be the second Vikings rookie to make a start this season — the other being right guard Ed Ingram.
It’s come as a bit of a surprise considering Minnesota’s top two picks from the draft haven’t made any starting contributions yet this season. First-round safety Lewis Cine was playing a role on special teams before he suffered a season-ending leg injury.
Meanwhile, second-round cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. hasn’t seen a single defensive snap this season. He suffered an ankle injury in the preseason and fell behind on defensive installs and has been dealing with various injuries this season.
Booth impressed during training camp and appears to be another promising young cornerback alongside Evans. However, he remains behind Evans on the depth chart for Sunday’s game.
Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell revealed that Booth is fully healthy and will be ready if called upon.
“He’s right in there ready to go too. He’s had good practices. He’s been nicked a little bit more so that’s put him behind some,” Donatell said in a November 11 press conference. “Every player is different. Some guys are more steep with their growth and some guys are more gradual. In the end, time will show what great quality players both those guys [Evans and Booth] will be.”