Vikings Add National Champion Clemson Cornerback for Bears Rematch

Cordrea Tankersley

Getty The Vikings added 2016 Clemson national champion cornerback Codrea Tankersley off the team's practice squad on Saturday, Dec. 19, ahead of Week 15 against the Chicago Bears.

Kris Boyd became the fourth Minnesota Vikings cornerback to land on the injured reserve list earlier this week after the second-year cornerback suffered a shoulder injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday.

To bolster their depth in the secondary, the Vikings elevated cornerback Cordrea Tankersley to the 53-man roster on Saturday, which also created space for kicker Taylor Bertolet to be signed to the practice squad ahead of a pivotal matchup with the Chicago Bears.

Bertolet could still be activated to the gameday roster on Sunday as incumbent kicker Dan Bailey has struggled, missing seven of his past 10 kicks, including three field goals and an extra point in a 12-point loss to the Buccaneers.

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 Tankersley, the Best Press Corner in His Class, Was a Steal

Minnesota poached Tankersley off the Miami Dolphins practice squad in November. The former 2017 third-round pick started in 11 games his rookie year, tallying 31 tackles and seven passes deflected before he suffered a torn ACL in 2018 that led to a lengthy two-year recovery.

The Dolphins vigorously reinforced their cornerback corps by drafting first-round rookie Noah Igbinoghene and making Byron Jones the league’s highest-paid corner by signing the former Dallas Cowboy to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Both talented cornerbacks joined Pro Bowler Xavien Howard before Tankersley could make a return to the NFL field while rehabbing to his pre-injury form.

He was still held in high regard by Miami who hired on former Patriots cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer. Boyer has coached five All-Pro defensive backs in Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Darrelle Revis, Aquib Talib and Devin McCourty and opted to keep Tankersley and continue his development before the Vikings signed him off the practice squad.

Tankersley played four years at Clemson, where he won a national championship in 2016. Pro Football Focus ranked him the best press cornerback of his draft class as Tankersley showed adept ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage with his 6-foot-1, 199-pound frame.

Tankersley’s 4.40 40-time, fifth-best in the 2017 draft class, was a bonus as he appeared to be an ideal outside cornerback with the size and speed required to excel at the NFL level. He allowed a 41.2 passer rating in his final two seasons at Clemson. Tankersley was considered a second-round prospect who slid in the draft in a deep class at cornerback.

 Tankersley’s Return to Game Action Could Come Sunday

It’s been 786 days since Tankersley dressed for an NFL regular-season game, but on Sunday, he could return to the playing field after a spectacular rookie season in 2017.

Minnesota is in the midst of a shift at cornerback as the team has released third-year cornerback Holton Hill and had Mark Fields’ scooped up by the Houston Texans the day after the second-year cornerback was dropped this past week.

Mike Hughes, who remains on the injured reserve list with a neck injury has one more year left on his contract, while rookies Jeff Gladney, Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand continue to develop and see plenty of playing time. Free-agent add Chris Jones could be in line for a new contract after the Vikings added the third-year corner in Week 9, while Boyd remains in the mix as well.

Gladney and Dantzler have secured starting positions and will be entering next season, but beyond the rookie duo, there is still plenty of competition that will play out through next year.


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