Vikings Sign Safety George Iloka to Practice Squad

Will Ragatz

The Vikings officially signed veteran safety George Iloka to the practice squad, the team announced on Thursday.

Iloka joins rookie safety Josh Metellus on the practice squad. As of right now, only three safeties are on the active roster: Harrison Smith, Anthony Harris, and Nate Meadors.

The Vikings had been interested in adding veteran depth at the position for a while after losing Andrew Sendejo and Jayron Kearse this offseason. Back during training camp, they brought in Jahleel Addae and Iloka for workouts. Waiting until after Week 1 to sign Iloka means they didn't have to guarantee his salary for the season.

Here's everything you need to know about the newest member of the practice squad, who has plenty of familiarity with both Mike Zimmer and the Vikings organization:

Iloka signed with the Vikings back in 2018 after being released by the Bengals, where he spent his first six NFL seasons. He played in all 16 games that season, making three starts, but had just 16 total tackles and a forced fumble. With the emergence of Anthony Harris, Iloka only played 120 defensive snaps and spent most of his time on special teams.

Iloka signed with the Cowboys in March 2019 but was waived after training camp and was out of football last season.

The 30-year-old safety was a fifth-round pick of the Bengals in 2012 after a standout career at Boise State. He didn't play much as a rookie, but started 76 of a possible 80 games between 2013 and 2017, racking up 341 tackles, 32 passes defended, and nine interceptions during that span. Mike Zimmer was Iloka's defensive coordinator for the first two seasons of his career.

At 6'4", 225, Iloka is a huge, physical safety. He's always been a strong run defender who can play in the box, but he's also got some ball skills on the back end. Iloka's main weakness is his athleticism in coverage, especially at this point in his career.

In a typical year, the Vikings wouldn't have been able to sign Iloka to the practice squad because of his status as a vested veteran in the NFL. But the unique circumstances of this 2020 season brought multiple changes to practice squad eligibility, with teams able to keep 16 players on the PS, including up to six players with any number of accrued seasons.

Here's what the team's practice squad looks like right now. R = rookie and V = vested veteran.

  • FB Jake Bargas (R)
  • T Blake Brandel (R)
  • QB Jake Browning
  • T Aviante Collins (V)
  • TE Brandon Dillon
  • CB Mark Fields II
  • G Kyle Hinton (R)
  • WR Alexander Hollins
  • DT Albert Huggins
  • S George Iloka (V)
  • C Brett Jones (V)
  • LB Blake Lynch (R)
  • K Chase McLaughlin (protected)
  • S Josh Metellus (R)
  • LB Hardy Nickerson Jr. (V)
  • QB Nate Stanley (R)

With Pat Elflein going on IR, there are only 52 players currently on the active roster, so it's possible a member of the practice squad could get signed to the active roster soon. Also, the Vikings can elevate two players each week. In Week 1, they signed Meadors to take Hunter's spot on the active roster and elevated Nickerson.

I'd imagine we see Iloka on the active roster eventually, given his experience.

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