Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Makes Strong Statement on Potential O-Line Benching

Kevin O'Connell

Getty Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell during the team's 2023 season opener.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell did not make any promises that newly signed guard Dalton Risner will play in Week 3.

The 28-year-old lineman was one of the most anticipated free-agent arrivals this offseason as the Vikings’ offensive line remains a pain point to fans — particularly second-year guard Ed Ingram, who led the league in pressures allowed his rookie year.

O’Connell revealed when Risner visited the team’s facilities in August that there was a conversation about Risner’s comfort in switching to the right side, which is Ingram’s spot.

However, on Wednesday, September 21, he struck down the suggestion that Risner’s arrival was a move to relieve Ingram or any other member of the starting offensive line.

“I don’t really want to get into the why now. Sometimes it’s hard to explain, some of which is easy to explain. The point is: we feel good about our depth there. It’s hard to have competition in-season. But we will obviously have to make decisions to get the best five guys on the field, and what that looks like right now I can’t tell you and timelines for that,” O’Connell said on September 20 in his first media availability after Risner’s signing.

“I do know that Dalton is very intelligent I do know he’s chomping at the bit to get going and got here as fast as he could. But he’s only been here for essentially one walkthrough… a lot to be determined.”

Ed Ingram Could Be Moved Elsewhere on the Vikings Offensive Line

Ed Ingram

GettyVikings guard Ed Ingram surrendered the most pressures of any lineman in the NFL last season.

The offensive line was on its last leg before the signing of Dalton Risner.

Injuries have ravaged the offensive front that only carried nine healthy linemen into the season. Left tackle Christian Darrisaw, center Garrett Bradbury, backup swing tackle Oli Udoh and interior lineman Chris Reed have all missed time so far this season, leaving Blake Brandel as the only backup lineman against the Eagles last Thursday.

Bradbury has not practiced this week with a back injury, Darrisaw is still hampered by an ankle injury that held him out in Week 2. Udoh and Reed are not expected to return to the active roster anytime soon, leaving limited options for Minnesota.

Risner has played nearly every spot in his career but ideally would be an upgrade at either guard spot. But there is the possibility of whether Austin Schlottmann, who has stood in for Bradbury this season, is the best option at the center spot.

Ingram took snaps at center during training camp and could be in consideration as a fill-in for Bradbury.

Risner could also start at center. But dependent on how much he can pick up in less than a week could prompt him to be a backup at least for Week 3.

The Vikings are weighing all the options ahead of a pivotal matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers where they hope to avoid a dreaded third straight loss to the season.

“We’re going to play the best five combination we can. We’re going to work through it and ultimately, with that depth now, we feel very much comfortable for the duration of  a long season knowing we played eight guys and eight quarters. We’ll see how it all shakes out. We’ll let Dalton get up to speed. Hopefully get C.D. (Darrisaw) back to join Brian [O’Neill] on the right side this week.”

Vikings vs. Chargers Already a Must-Win in Week 3

The Vikings and Chargers are in a similar place as underperforming 0-2 teams to start the season.

Both squads have playoff aspirations and the talent to make a run. However, the odds are not in their favor falling to 0-3 to start the season.

Since 1979, only six teams have made the postseason after an 0-3 start.

The Vikings don’t seem to be quite in panic mode considering the way the rest of the NFC North looks, and adding Risner is a clear sign the team has not thrown in the towel yet despite facing the 11% chance of making the playoffs as an 0-2 team.

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