Healthy Marcus Davenport is a Difference-Maker For the Vikings

Healthy Marcus Davenport is a Difference-Maker For the Vikings

Davenport gave the Vikings another impact player up front on Sunday.

A healthy Marcus Davenport is a difference-maker for the Minnesota Vikings‘ defense. That much was made clear during his first extended action of the season on Sunday.

Davenport had only played four snaps (all coming in Week 2) over the first three games of the season due to an ankle injury. Without him, the Vikings were without an impactful pass rusher to pair with Danielle Hunter up front. The ankle felt good enough for him to play 45 of 72 defensive snaps (62.5 percent) in the Vikings’ win over the Panthers.

This was our first look at the player the Vikings were hoping to see every week when they signed Davenport to a one-year, $13 million deal this spring. He finished with his first sack as a Viking and four total tackles, but his penetration also created opportunities for his teammates to make plays.

There was a sequence in the third quarter, right after the Vikings took the lead on D.J. Wonnum’s scoop and score, when Davenport really made his presence felt. On first down, he burst into the backfield and slowed Chuba Hubbard enough for Pat Jones II and Jaquelin Roy to combine on a tackle for loss. Two plays later, Davenport lined up on the interior and beat left guard Chandler Zavala with a spin move. He couldn’t quite bring down Bryce Young, but D.J. Wonnum’s sack was created by Davenport’s pressure.

In the fourth quarter, Davenport finally got his sack, chasing down Young as he tried to escape the pocket. Again, it came on a play where he lined up on the interior on third down.

“It was absolutely awesome to have Marcus Davenport back in the game,” Kevin O’Connell said. “You could feel him in the run game, on the edges, and then just part of that rush group with Danielle and D.J.”

Davenport’s sack means he has already surpassed his 2022 total of 0.5. But even though the sack totals fluctuated during his Saints career, he’s always been a constant pressure-creator and run defender when he’s been on the field.

The Vikings need Davenport to stay healthy moving forward, because his presence changes the entire outlook for their defense.

“It was definitely challenging,” Davenport said about dealing with the injury over the season’s first month. “I’m lucky in the way my teammates embraced me. I kind of blame myself for seeing some outside things — people like to talk — and some points I had to take personal, some things I had to let go. I was lucky in that I had people, almost every day, checking on me, telling me to keep my head up. Being able to go out there and try to impact it and help my team, I’m just real lucky.”

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