The Minnesota Vikings announced Thursday afternoon that they are placing starting right guard Pat Elflein on the injured reserve. Elflein has bounced around from center, left guard and right guard for the Vikings, and has had his ups and downs throughout his first three seasons.
The offensive line has gotten a lot of criticism over the last several years and Elflein has been a big topic of those discussions. Since he moved to guard after his rookie season he has battled injuries and hasn’t put together another season as strong as his first.
Although he’s struggled recently, Elflein is in his fourth season and is one of the most experienced players on the offensive line. The guards behind him have had some buzz, but they all have limited playing time.
It’s now likely a battle between Dru Samia, Avaiante Collins or rookie Ezra Cleveland. Collins was in a camp battle with Dakota Dozier for the starting left guard role, before being placed on the practice squad. Samia is a fan favorite and has gotten some rave reviews from coaches, but it’s clear they didn’t think he was ready for a starting role yet. Cleveland is traditionally a left tackle but has gotten all his reps on the interior of the offensive line for the Vikings.
One of these young players is going to get a chance to lock down the right guard position for at least the next three weeks, but it could be an audition for the future as well.
With the new COVID-19 IR rules, Elflein is eligible to return to the field in week five against the Seattle Seahawks.