Vikings Sign Rival Veteran Cornerback Ahead of Season Opener

Duke Shelley

Getty The Bears placed DB Duke Shelley on the injured reserve list heading into week 12.

The Minnesota Vikings have reached their capacity at TCO Performance Center.

Signing Chicago Bears veteran cornerback Duke Shelley to their practice squad on September 6, the Vikings have found their 16th and final member of the practice squad entering the first week of the 2022 season.

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Shelley enters as the only other true slot cornerback on the roster other than starter Chandon Sullivan. Shelley, entering his fourth season in the league, has appeared in 30 career games with six starts, recording 53 tackles with four passes defended. He played in 11 games in 2020 and 10 more last season when he started a career-high four games.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), two practice-squad players can be promoted to the active roster every week without reverting to waivers the following week.

Shelley could be a candidate for promotion to the active roster in Sunday’s pivotal season opener against the Green Bay Packers given the need for a veteran backup in the slot.

Shelley was released by the Bears on August 31.

Background on Shelley

Coming out of Kansas State in 2019, Shelley was deemed an underrated, but undersized slot corner at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds.

He was a four-year starter at Kansas State but suffered a torn ligament in his toe in his senior season that forced him to miss the final five games of the 2018 season. He tallied 165 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, eight interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, and 31 pass deflections in four seasons with the Wildcats.

Shelley didn’t receive an invitation to the combine due to his injury but impressed at Kansas State’s pro day. He ran a 4.46 40-time that drew the allure of 14 different team reps approaching him for interviews after his workout, according to the Kansas City Star.

“I can feel it, man,” Shelley told the Kansas City Star in 2019. “It’s just right here. Seeing all the coaches right here has got me hyped and ready to go. It’s a dream come true, something I have been waiting on since I was five years old. Now that it is here I don’t have words for it.”

Shelley worked his way into a rotational starting role in Chicago but struggled last season amid issues across the Bears defense. He allowed 35 receptions on 46 targets thrown his way and a 103.8 passer rating when targeted.

He remains an aggressive slot cornerback at his size who can at times be overpowered and capitalized against due to his size.

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 Vikings CBs Will Make Their Debut on Sunday

Another year, another new cornerback room in Minnesota.

The Vikings for a third consecutive year will have a different starting cornerback group — this year featuring  Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler and Sullivan in the slot.

However, the larger development is two rookies who made the final 53-man roster in second-round pick  Andrew Booth Jr. and fifth-round pick Akayleb Evans. The two rookies are projected as second-string backups to the starters and could see plenty of action on Sunday against Aaron Rodgers.

Meanwhile, Kris Boyd and Nate Hairston maintain their special teams roles.

Hairston (Denver Broncos), Sullivan (Packers), Booth Jr. and Evans will be playing in their first for the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

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