The Minnesota Vikings may not have Pro Bowl right tackle Brian O’Neill, but after more roster moves on Saturday, it appears that they may have backup OT Blake Brandel for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. About 24 hours prior to the start of their Wild Card game against New York, the Vikings activated Brandel off IR, per Chris Tomasson. In order to free up a roster spot, Minnesota waived center Greg Mancz.
Brandel went on IR back in December following Minnesota’s Week 14 loss to the Detroit Lions with a knee injury, but there has been confidence throughout the week that he would be able to return for the Vikings playoff run. Now, his activation ahead of the Wild Card round opens the door of possibilities for him to start at right tackle.
Even if the Vikings opt to sit Brandel this weekend, they have capable hands in Oli Udoh. Udoh played all 17 games in 2021, including 16 starts. He even got some time at left tackle. Udoh also started Week 18 at right tackle this season, playing all 48 offensive snaps.
As for Mancz, who the Vikings waived, he was signed in the aftermath of Austin Schlottmann suffering a season-ending injury of his own. He was brought in to back up Chris Reed, who made his first career start at center. However, with Garrett Bradbury looking to make his return this weekend as well, Minnesota can move Reed to the backup spot.
So, what will they do about the third-string center if, God forbid, both Bradbury and Reed get hurt? Well, it appears that Kevin O’Connell has an answer for that as well. Apparently, the Vikings head coach has faith in the recently activated Brandel to play all three spots on the offensive line: tackle, guard, and center.
Hopefully, it won’t come down to that, but either way, it is good to see the Vikings getting as close to full health in the trenches as they can prior to their first home playoff game since the Minneapolis Miracle.
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.