The Vikings activated cornerback Cameron Dantzler from the Reserve/COVID-19 list among of a wave of roster moves the day before their game against the Packers on Sunday.
Dantzler was added to the list on Wednesday, but he never tested positive for the coronavirus, according to multiple reports. He was added because the team discovered via contact tracing that he had been exposed to someone (not a teammate) who tested positive.
Getting Dantzler back is big for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings, who are without injured corners Mike Hughes and Holton Hill. They'll likely go with an all-rookie CB trio of Dantzler, Jeff Gladney, and Harrison Hand against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. If that's the case, Dantlzer and Gladney would play every snap, with Hand coming on and Gladney moving into the slot in nickel. The other possibility is that Dantlzer and Gladney stay on the outside all game, with former UDFA Mark Fields playing nickel instead of Hand.
Here are the rest of the Vikings' roster moves:
- LB Troy Dye activated from injured reserve
- OL Brett Jones activated via COVID-19 roster replacement
- CB Chris Jones activated from exemption
- DB Luther Kirk and DT Hercules Mata'afa elevated from practice squad for the game
- Ruled WR/special teams gunner Dan Chisena OUT.
Let's quickly run through what each of those actually means.
Dye, a fourth-round pick out of Oregon, was placed on IR following Week 2 with a foot injury. He was designated for return earlier this week and is now officially back on the roster. He'll start as the No. 3 linebacker in base defense this Sunday with Todd Davis on Reserve/COVID-19 (By the way, the Vikings reported no new positive tests on Saturday, which is big).
Pat Elflein, like Dye, was designated for return from IR, but the team has chosen not to activate him yet. They still have 16 days left in the 21-day window. If Elflein isn't activated by Nov. 16th (which seems unlikely), he'll remain on IR the rest of the season. He injured his thumb in practice prior to Week 2.
With no Elflein, rookie Ezra Cleveland will reportedly make his second career start at right guard – even though Dru Samia is now healthy. The veteran Brett Jones, who was waived earlier this week and re-signed to the practice squad, has been activated as depth on the offensive line. He's a COVID-19 replacement for Davis.
Chris Jones, a former Cardinals and Lions cornerback who the Vikings claimed on waivers this week, has also been activated. He's presumably fifth on the depth chart at corner behind Gladney, Dantzler, Hand, and Fields.
Kirk and Mata'afa have been elevated from the practice squad to the active roster. Teams can elevate up to two players per game this year to technically have 55 on the active roster, though only 48 can actually be active on gameday.
Kirk is a hybrid defensive back who will provide depth at both corner and safety. He went undrafted out of Illinois State in 2019 and was previously with the Cowboys. Kirk (6'2", 195) was an FCS All-American as a senior at ISU and won the Defensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Bowl in 2019.
Both Kirk and Chris Jones could potentially contribute on special teams with Chisena out. Mata'afa spent time on the active roster earlier this year. He's probably fifth on the depth chart at defensive tackle behind Shamar Stephe, Jaleel Johnson, Armon Watts, and James Lynch.
The Vikings' inactive list will come out at 10:30 a.m. central time Sunday morning.
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