Before their Week 2 contest against the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings have made another roster move, and it could say something about the state of the cornerback position going into the big NFC North matchup.
The Vikings have just announced that they have elevated linebacker Devante Downs to the 53-man roster. To make room for him, the team waived cornerback Mark Fields.
Downs was a seventh-round pick of the Vikings in the 2018 NFL Draft, and had a solid preseason for the purple, but got squeezed off of the active roster during the final cuts. He played in 11 games as a rookie, playing almost exclusively on special teams.
Fields was acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs on cutdown day in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft choice in 2021. The forfeiture of the pick for the Vikings was contingent on the number of games Fields was on the roster for. Given that he’s now off of the roster, I think we can safely assume that the Vikings are going to keep that pick unless they bring him back later.
There has not been any word yet on who the Vikings will sign to the practice squad to fill Downs’ newly-vacated spot, but perhaps that’s were Fields will be heading if he clears waivers.
Fields was listed as questionable on this week’s injury report after being limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. The Vikings had two other cornerbacks on the final injury report on Friday, with Mackensie Alexander (elbow) listed as out and Mike Hughes (knee) listed as doubtful, giving them significant depth issues at that spot.
Given the nature of the injury that Alexander suffered in Week 1, I would be surprised if his status changed, but perhaps Hughes is closer to coming back than originally thought. He spent all of Training Camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, as he was still recovering from the torn ACL he suffered last October. He was removed from the list before the final cuts, and had been limited in practice since then. . .until Friday, when he was listed as a full participant.
With Alexander being out, the Vikings are going to lean heavily on Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Jayron Kearse for their nickel packages on Sunday. Behind them, the next cornerback on the depth chart is rookie Kris Boyd, who. . .well, let’s be charitable and just say that he’s struggled a bit.
Could this move foreshadow the return of the Vikings’ 2018 first-round pick? We’re less than 24 hours away from finding out.