Vikings’ $13 Million Starter Suffers Serious Injury, Out at Least 4 Weeks

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Vikings

Getty General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

Minnesota Vikings edge rusher Marcus Davenport suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 6 and, after further testing, was placed on the team’s injured reserve (IR) list on Wednesday.

Davenport will be required to stay on the list and remain inactive for at least four weeks. He is eligible to return for Week 11 at the earliest, although he could be out for longer.

#Vikings pass-rusher Marcus Davenport suffered a high-ankle sprain in Sunday’s win, sources said after the MRI,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday, October 18, the night before Davenport was placed on IR. “Those generally have a recovery time of 4-6 weeks, making Davenport an Injured Reserve candidate.”

Davenport dealt with an injury to his other ankle at the beginning of the season. He played just four snaps in the first three games before making his true debut in Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers.

His impact when on the field was clear. Davenport posted a sack against the Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs, four quarterback hits and seven total pressures in those two games. The pass rush was considerably improved with Davenport back, which freed up Danielle Hunter from facing double teams frequently.

D.J. Wonnum and Patrick Jones II will see more usage in Davenport’s absence.

Vikings’ Signing of Marcus Davenport Looks Bleak

Marcus Davenport

Courtesy of VikingsMarcus Davenport of the Minnesota Vikings

Davenport was the Vikings’ prized free-agent signing in the offseason. Minnesota secured Davenport to a one-year, deal worth up to $13 million, giving the 27-year-old a chance to prove his worth after five seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

Davenport’s efficiency on the field was a bet the Vikings chased. His 81.2 pass-rushing grade since the start of the 2020 season ranks 22nd among the 104 edge defenders who’ve logged at least 500 pass-rushing snaps over that stretch, per Pro Football Focus (PFF). His 15.1% pressure rate ranks 11th.

However, his career has been ravaged by injury.

Davenport has reached 500 or more snaps in a single season just once in his five years in the league.

“Injuries once again hampered Davenport’s season, but he’s a remarkably effective pass rusher off the edge when healthy, and his talent alone could be worth the gamble in free agency – especially given the relative lack of edge rushers available,” Davenport’s bio on PFF’s free-agent big board reads. “Since he entered the league in 2018, Davenport’s 17.8% pass-rush win rate and 13.9% pressure percentage are both top-20 marks among edge defenders, and he’s also earned a very respectable 82.1 run-defense grade for his career, which ranks 16th over the span.

“Davenport has five straight campaigns grading above 70.0. The issue is that he’s yet to log 600 snaps in a single season. At the end of the day, top-20 edge defenders against the pass and run don’t reach free agency often, and while his injury list is long, it doesn’t include any devastating ligament tears.”

2 Promising Vikings Playmakers Return

The good news on Wednesday is the Vikings get two offensive contributors back.

Running back and kick returner Kene Nwangwu was activated to the 53-man roster on Wednesday, while second-year wide receiver Jalen Nailor was designated to return from practice.

Nailor’s return comes in the wake of Justin Jefferson landing on the injured reserve list. He was considered the No. 4 wide receiver on the depth chart behind Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn and Jefferson and could contribute in the coming weeks.

The Vikings released Trishton Jackson to make room for Nwangwu on the active roster. Jackson is a candidate to be re-signed to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

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