The Vikings earned their fifth consecutive win on Sunday, defeating the Arizona Cardinals 34-26. During that victory, we got to see a couple new faces on this Vikings roster for the first time. Those two players were defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga and defensive back Theo Jackson.
Tonga spent his rookie season of 2021 with the Chicago Bears. The Bears selected him in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft with the 250th overall pick. During that rookie season, he appeared in 16 of 17 games for Chicago and made two starts on the defensive line.
Over the course of that season, he recorded 24 tackles, including one TFL that he made against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 8. He also recovered a fumble in Week 17 against the New York Giants.
Tonga was signed to the Vikings practice squad on October 4th after being waived by the Bears prior to the start of the season. He actually began the 2022 regular season with the Atlanta Falcons, but he did not make an appearance in any games during that time before the Vikings signed him.
This week he saw his first action largely because Jonathan Bullard was forced to sit out against the Cardinals with an illness. Bullard had made starts in three of Minnesota’s first six games, so he became a major part of the Vikings defense over the first portion of the season. Due to his absence, Tonga saw 16 snaps on the defense this week, but he did not record any stats.
As for Jackson, the Tennessee Titans drafted him in the sixth round of the 2022 Draft. They selected him with the 204th overall pick but waived him following preseason and added him to their practice squad.
Tennessee elevated him to the active roster ahead of their Week 4 game against the Indianapolis Colts. However, Jackson did not see the field for that game. After re-joining Tennessee’s practice squad, Minnesota signed him on October 11th.
Jackson’s first action came on Sunday for Minnesota. The 24 snaps all came on special teams, and he actually appeared in 80% of the Vikings special teams snaps. He also recorded a tackle during the game.
Minnesota continues searching for help in that area of the field after Lewis Cine’s season-ending leg injury. With Jackson’s production, perhaps Minnesota has an answer at that position now. It remains to be seen if he gets any action on the defense.
Overall, it’s not a huge day for this pair of Vikings defenders. However, it’s good to know that the Vikings have reliable pieces that can step up when needed.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.