Vikings Urged to Bench Key Starter Ahead of Rivalry Matchup

Chandon Sullivan

Getty Vikings slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan was deemed a must-bench player by Bleacher Report after being exposed in Week 3 against the Lions.

The Minnesota Vikings defense has turned in polarizing results through three games this season.

Allowing the third-most yards per game (413.3) in the league but also ranking ninth in points allowed per game (19.3), the Vikings defense cannot sustain living in two different worlds in those statistical categories.

The other shoe is bound to drop.

And while Minnesota’s pass defense is willing to give up shorter plays deploying zone coverage, the middle of the field has been exploited too much — prompting Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine to suggest the Vikings bench a player primarily responsible for that area of the field — staring slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan — ahead of a rivalry game with the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in London.

Vikings Urged to Bench Chandon Sullivan

In a September 28 Bleacher Report article, Ballentine listed a player every team must bench as soon as possible and named Sullivan as Minnesota’s must-bench starter.

“The Detroit Lions found the weakness in the secondary with Amon-Ra St. Brown this past Sunday. The Sun God had six catches for 73 yards and was the first to show the Vikings that they might not have an answer inside with Sullivan,” Ballentine wrote. “Through three games, Sullivan has a pedestrian 56.6 PFF grade. That’s right in line with his production last season, when he graded out at 55.0 with 47 receptions allowed on 68 targets.

“The Vikings are 27th in adjusted yards per pass attempt allowed. They need to find some answers in the secondary, and a new option to man the slot would be a good start,” Ballentine added.”

Sullivan’s limitations came to surface against St. Brown. He allowed four receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown against the Lions while Jared Goff posted a 147.9 passer rating when targeting receivers covered by Sullivan, per PFF. He has stayed out of the crosshairs for much of the season, but teams with strong slot receivers now have a model for beating the Vikings in coverage.

To Minnesota’s fortune, they have two rookie corners who shined in the preseason who could begin to push for defensive snaps.

Andrew Booth Jr. ‘Close’ to NFL Debut, Akayleb Evans Already Shining

Andrew Booth Jr.

Courtesy of VikingsVikings second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr. is “close” to dressing for his first NFL game after ailing with a quad injury the first three games.

Second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr. made a fast impression at training camp for his fiesty demeanor and contentious coverage. Evans’ NFL debut has been derailed by a quad injury that’s held him out of the first three games of the season.

Booth told KSTP’s Darren Wolfson that his recovery is getting “very close” to complete before Week 3’s matchup with the Lions. He’s remained a non-participant at practice as of Thursday, but the Vikings cut veteran cornerback Parry Nickerson from the practice squad — a sign that Booth is indeed close.

Meanwhile, fourth-round pick Akayleb Evans has already seen some playing time on defense. He filled in for Cameron Dantzler, who was quietly benched in Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Evans kept everything in front of him, allowing two receptions on two targets for 14 yards against the Eagles and just five yards after the catch.

Evans and Booth are outside cornerbacks but could challenge Sullivan for snaps in the slot. Evans has experience playing the spot in college.

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