Christian Darrisaw, the Minnesota Vikings’ 2021 first-round draft pick, made his first start on Sunday and played well in a 34-28 victory at Carolina. But none of the Vikings’ other rookies has made any story of impact. That includes Kellen Mond, the former Texas A&M quarterback they picked in the third round, 66th overall.
Mond missed 10 days of training camp after contracting COVID-19 and was underwhelming in three preseason games, completing 28 of 51 passes for 300 yards with an interception and no touchdowns. When Seattle released veteran Sean Mannion on Sept. 1, the Vikings quickly signed him to be Kirk Cousins’ backup.
“This gives us the ability to bring Kellen along,” Spielman said. “We watched him. … The thing that maybe set him back a little bit is when he missed those 10 days (of) training camp, which is critical. Training camp is a really critical part of a rookie’s development. But you see him, and we see him out here practicing, in how he’s progressing every day.”
Spielman said cornerback coaches hope Patrick Peterson, placed on injured reserve Monday with a hamstring injury, will be back for a key NFC North game against first-place Green Bay on Nov. 21. In the meantime, he said, the Vikings have the depth to make due.
Still, it’s a tough break for a team that released Jeff Gladney, who played all 16 games and made 15 starts as a rookie last season, on Aug. 3 after he was indicted on charges of felony domestic assault in Texas. Asked if the Vikings had any potentially troubling information when they drafted Gladney out of Texas Christian, Spielman said, “Not whatsoever.”
The Vikings also traded cornerback Mike Hughes to Kansas City for a sixth-round draft pick on May 13. A first-round pick, Hughes missed a total of 24 games to knee and neck injuries in Minnesota but has played in all six of the Chiefs’ games this season.
“Well, I wish I had a crystal ball and all that,” Spielman said. “I’m not going to get into injuries and things like that. A lot of times when you do make decisions, you have to make decisions based on the people who are experts in those specific areas, not getting too specific. I didn’t anticipate the Gladney situation.”
In the meantime, second-year player Cameron Dantzler will have to step into Peterson’s starting spot for the Oct. 31 game against Dallas, which behind quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott has the NFL’s top-ranked offense (480.6 yards, 32.4 points a game).
“Dantzler is going to have to step up and he has the ability to fill in,” Spielman said.
The Vikings released running back Ameer Abdullah on Tuesday and activated running back Kene Nwangwu, a rookie from Iowa State, from the injured reserve/designated for return list. … Spielman said the Vikings expect to have Michael Pierce back for their next game, against Dallas at U.S. Bank Stadium. The veteran defensive tackle has missed two games with an elbow injury. … Harrison Hand, a second-year cornerback who has been on the COVID list since Oct. 5, also is expected back after the bye.