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Vikings Signing Ex-Bears NT Khyiris Tonga Off Falcons' Practice Squad

Tonga will take Lewis Cine's spot on Minnesota's 53-man roster.

The Vikings are signing second-year nose tackle Khyiris Tonga off of the Falcons' practice squad, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Tonga was drafted by the Bears in the seventh round in 2021 after a standout career at BYU. He appeared in 15 games as a rookie, starting two of them and playing 217 defensive snaps. Tonga had 24 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 fumble recovery, 1 QB pressure, and a mediocre 52.1 PFF grade last season. He was charged with six missed tackles, per PFF.

Waived by the Bears in final roster cuts this year, Tonga signed to the Falcons' practice squad a month ago.

The fact that Tonga spent 16 months with the Bears feels relevant, given that the Vikings host the Bears in Minneapolis this weekend. I'm not sure how much information Tonga would be able to help with, but it's at least worth noting.

At BYU, Tonga racked up 8.5 sacks, 16 total tackles for loss, and 12 pass breakups in four years. He was a dominant collegiate nose tackle. However, he fell to the seventh round likely because of his age (he's already 26 because he served a two-year mission after high school) and his lack of great length or athleticism.

Tonga is 6'2", 330 pounds and extremely strong, as evidenced by his 35 bench press reps at BYU's pro day. He actually posted a good 20-yard split in the 40, but his agility scores were poor.

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With the Vikings, Tonga joins a defensive line room that includes Dalvin Tomlinson, Harrison Phillips, Jonathan Bullard, James Lynch, Ross Blacklock, and rookie Esezi Otomewo. Outside of Phillips, none of those players are true nose tackles, so Tonga adds depth there. He could also help shore up their poor run defense.

Cine placed on IR

The Vikings announced on Tuesday that Lewis Cine underwent successful surgery to repair the compound fracture he suffered against the Saints. He'll return to Minnesota from London fairly soon.

Cine was officially placed on injured reserve. Linebacker Ryan Connelly, a quality special teams player, was activated from the Reserve/PUP list to take his roster spot, so another move will be coming to make room for Tonga.

DL Jaylen Twyman and WR Travis Toivonen were released from the practice squad, creating room for potential additions there.

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