Vikings’ Mike Zimmer Blindsided by 1st-Round Pick’s Surgery: ‘We Didn’t Expect This’

Getty Christian Darrisaw

The Minnesota Vikings did their due diligence when drafting their left tackle of the future in Virginia Tech prospect Christian Darrisaw.

In January, Darrisaw, selected No. 23 overall, had an operation on a core muscle injury but passed his NFL Combine medical. He was expected to be fully healed shortly after the draft, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Despite the positive report on draft night, Darrisaw is back on the mend after getting a second operation from his surgeon in Philadelphia earlier this month. He is expected to be out another two to three weeks but ready in time for Minnesota’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 12. According to Star Tribune reporter Andrew Krammer, he likely won’t start, given the delays in his development and lack of reps with the starting offensive line during the preseason.

Coach Mike Zimmer vented his frustrations with Darrisaw’s health throughout the preseason and, like many of us, admitted the rookie’s second surgery blindsided him.

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 ‘Nagging All the Time’

Darrisaw was a full participant in rookie minicamps but missed time in OTAs in May and early June. His condition barely improved during summer break. He missed the first week of training camp and was limited in practice prior to consulting his surgeon for a second opinion.

“He’s one step forward, two steps back,” Zimmer said before Darrisaw underwent surgery. “Hard to get it done when you’re not out there…It’s just nagging all the time.”

Darrisaw’s injury stems from playing through a groin injury his senior year. He put together impressive enough tape to be ranked the consensus 14th overall player in the draft and the third-best left tackle by The Athletic’s Arif Hasan.

After the announcement of Darrisaw’s surgery, Zimmer indicated that both he and the Vikings organization thought Darrisaw was fully healthy.

“They tell me one thing and it ends up being something else. I don’t know… That’s what the doctors said (that he’ll be back for Week 1), but I don’t know… It was taken care of in January. We didn’t expect this,” Zimmer said, per Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson.

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Projected Vikings Offensive Line

The Vikings’ projected starting offensive line looks starkly different from what fans had anticipated after Minnesota selected Darrisaw and Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis, a third-round pick.

Third-year tackle turned guard Oli Udoh has shown the biggest jump in training camp, seizing the starting right guard spot over Davis. Ezra Cleveland was moved to left guard, returning to his strong side as a former left tackle at Boise State.

Garrett Bradbury enters his fourth year as the team’s starting center, while right tackle Brian O’Neill anchors the group as the most veteran and talented lineman.

Rashod Hill, undrafted in 2016, has started in 17 of 59 in five seasons with the Vikings and currently projects as the starting left tackle.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Darrisaw eventually supplanted Hill for the starting left tackle role, however, it seems unlikely he will in time for Week 1.

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