For the first time this season, the Vikings are using both of their two allotted practice squad elevations for a game. In the wake of several injuries in the secondary, they're calling up a pair of defensive backs: cornerback Mark Fields II and safety George Iloka.
This is the second straight week that Fields has been elevated from the practice squad. In Week 1, the only player elevated was LB Hardy Nickerson Jr. (who is now on the active roster). This is a new rule for 2020 that allows the teams to have 55 players on the active roster each weekend, though only 48 can actually be active on gameday.
Fields being added to the active roster was necessitated by several injuries to the Vikings' cornerback room. Cameron Dantzler (rib) and Mike Hughes (neck) are out, and Kris Boyd (hamstring) is questionable. If Boyd can go, he'll likely be the No. 3 corner along with Holton Hill and Jeff Gladney when the Vikings are in nickel.
But if Boyd's hamstring forces him to miss the game, the Vikings will have to go even deeper down the depth chart at DB. Their third corner could be Fields or fifth-round rookie Harrison Hand. It's also possible that the Vikings would go with Iloka (who is 6'4", 225) as a "big nickel" with Hill and Gladney on the outside. We saw Jayron Kearse play that big nickel role at times early in last season when Hughes and Mackensie Alexander were banged up. Andrew Sendejo played it very well in the wild card round of the playoffs.
Iloka could potentially match up well with Titans TE Jonnu Smith (6'3", 247), who is their second-leading receiver this season.
Iloka was acquired by the Vikings a couple weeks ago. He was with Minnesota back in 2018 and has seven years of NFL experience, but was out of the league last season. If he's not playing in the nickel, he will likely contribute on special teams. Iloka or Josh Metellus would be in line for snaps at safety if either Harrison Smith or Anthony Harris had to leave the game for any reason.
Fields was acquired by the Vikings in a trade with the Chiefs prior to the start of the 2019 campaign. The Clemson product saw some action in Week 1 but has mostly been on the practice squad during his time in Minnesota.
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