The good news for the Vikings is defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and cornerback Akayleb Evans will return to the starting lineup on Sunday after missing multiple games each.
The bad news is left tackle Christian Darrisaw, one of their best players, will miss another game with a concussion.
Also on the team’s final injury report ahead of Sunday’s battle with the Jets are third-string tight end Ben Ellefson (out) and rotational defensive tackle Ross Blacklock (questionable, illness). Ellefson was activated off of injured reserve this week in order to keep him available this season, but he isn’t ready to play yet. If the Vikings didn’t active him, his 21-day window would’ve closed and he would’ve been out for the season.
Getting Tomlinson and Evans back should provide a nice boost for a Vikings defense that has been struggling, particularly in the passing game. Tomlinson is a key cog in the middle of their defensive line who commands double teams and frees up everyone else around him to make plays. Not only is he a strong run defender, the pending free agent was off to the best start of his career as a pass rusher with 15 pressures and 1.5 sacks in the first six games of the season. He injured his calf against the Cardinals and missed each of the last four games.
Evans should also be an upgrade over Duke Shelley at outside cornerback. The fourth-round rookie showed promise when called upon against the Eagles, Commanders, and Bills, particularly in that game in Washington after Cameron Dantzler got hurt. He’s long, athletic, and can be effective in coverage as well as stepping up as a tackler against the run.
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Being without Darrisaw again is unfortunate, as he’s been one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL this season when healthy. He suffered a concussion against the Bills, was cleared the following week, and then suffered another one against the Cowboys. It’s at least an encouraging development that Darrisaw was back at practice on Friday in a red non-contact jersey. He could have a chance to play against the Lions next week. For now, Blake Brandel will make another start at LT.
Blacklock got his first sack as a Viking last week against the Patriots and would be a minor loss if this illness prevents him from playing. He has played between 11 and 19 snaps in each of the last eight games.
The Jets will be without backup safety Ashtyn Davis and are listing RB Michael Carter and backup OT Cedric Ogbuehi. Starting left tackle Duane Brown is listed as questionable, so that’s something to monitor as Sunday’s game approaches.
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