EAGAN, Minn. -- Jalyn Holmes has gone from barely playing in two seasons as a defensive tackle to now being a starting defensive end for the Vikings.
Holmes said Thursday, Oct. 29, he will move into the lineup on Sunday at Green Bay to replace the traded Yannick Ngakoue. And you better believe he’s thrilled about it.
“Since I’ve been here, I just try to prepare myself every day like I already am a starter, but it’s definitely a blessing,’’ he said. “I’m excited, my family’s excited, so it’s definitely an opportunity for me and myself, and my family.’’
Holmes, taken in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, got into just 11 games in his first two seasons. He was moved this year to defensive end, the position he played at Ohio State, and has been in the rotation all season.
Holmes did start at left defensive tackle in the Sept. 13 opener against Green Bay, 13 days after Ngakoue had been acquired from Jacksonville. But Ngakoue took over the starting role for the next five games.
Ngakoue was traded Oct. 22 to Baltimore. That opened up the opportunity for Holmes to perhaps become a regular starter for the first time in his NFL career.
“I feel like every game I’m getting a lot better,’’ Holmes said. “I definitely feel like I’m taking the right step in the right direction.’’
Holmes said he picked Ngakoue’s “brain as much” as he could during his two months with him. But the Vikings now must move on without the former Pro Bowl selection.
“He’s gotten better every week, and I’m very pleased where Jalyn is right now,’’ said co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Andre Patterson.
Patterson called the trade of Ngakoue “just the nature of the the business” in the NFL.
“The guy did a great job while he was here,’’ Patterson said. “He worked, busted his tail to try to do the things that we asked him to do. … There’s nothing negative that I have to say about Yann or my experience with Yann, but I’m excited to see these other guys continue to get more reps.’’
New safety arrives
Safety Curtis Riley, claimed Wednesday off Arizona’s practice squad, has arrived in the Twin Cities to begin coronavirus testing. Unless there is an unexpected result, he will be officially added to Minnesota’s 53-man roster.
“It feels good. … I am excited,’’ Riley said.
After going undrafted in 2015 out of Fresno State, Riley has played in 47 NFL games, including 20 starts, with Tennessee, the New York Giants, Oakland and Arizona. He started in Week 3 last year for the Raiders at Minnesota.
“He’s still trying to figure out our system and those kind of things,’’ Patterson said. “He moves well and he’s just got to be here long enough to continue to master what we’re trying to do.’’
The Vikings are looking for Riley to be a veteran backup behind Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris. George Iloka had that role until he was lost for the season with a torn ACL suffered in an Oct. 21 practice.
Cook remains on schedule
Running back Dalvin Cook remained on schedule Thursday to play Sunday after missing one game due to a groin strain.
Cook was limited in practice for the second straight day. He returned to practice after being injured Oct. 11 at Seattle and sitting out Oct. 18 against Atlanta. The Vikings had a bye last weekend.
Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu will have a role in how many snaps Cook might get Sunday but that a normal load is anticipated.
“Practice, to me, the past few days hasn’t indicated (a reduced load),’’ Kubiak said. “He’s worked his load and practiced well. … How Dalvin goes, we normally go, so obviously we’ve got to get him going and get him back to work.’’
Elfein, Dye again practice
Guard Pat Elflein and linebacker Troy Dye both practiced on Thursday for the second straight day. On Monday, both were designated to return from injured reserve.
Elflein (thumb) has missed the past five games and Dye (foot) the last four. If all continues to go well, both could be activated for Sunday.
“It’s great to have Troy back,’’ said co-offensive coordinator and linebackers coach Adam Zimmer. “He’s running around good, he’s practiced just like he was kind of before the injury.’’
Minnesota has 51 players on the active roster and Riley would make 52. If Riley signs by Saturday and the Vikings activate both Elflein and Dye, they would need to clear one roster spot.