Five Players were Absent from Vikings OTAs
Yesterday was the first time the media could get into the Vikings OTAs. According to Will Ragatz, 81 out of a possible 86 Vikings were present. The five missing Vikings were Danielle Hunter, Jeff Gladney, Cameron Dantzler, Britton Colquitt, and Hercules Mata’afa.
Let’s begin with Dantzler. The promising second-year corner missed, per Ragatz, because of his son’s second birthday. It’s a perfectly legitimate reason to miss a practice, especially one that is completely voluntary at the beginning of the offseason. Dantzler even confirmed he’d soon be back with his teammates:
Colquitt’s absence shouldn’t raise too much concern. He restructured his deal to stay with Minnesota, so there is obviously some desire to stick with the team. Even if he didn’t show up, it’d probably be fine. The dude has been in the NFL for eleven seasons and played in 176 games. I’m sure he’ll be able to sort things out by early Sept.
Mata’afa is an interesting absence. There has been some frustration from Mata’afa in the past about his role with the team, or lack thereof. He had some strong moments last season, and one wonders how the depth defensive ends understood Minnesota’s decision to draft two DEs in the middle rounds and bring back Stephen Weatherly. Mata’afa will really need to earn his roster spot this season. For what it’s worth, Ragatz speculates that his absence was due to “personal reasons.”
Gladney is absent for obvious reasons. There is an ongoing investigation for some really troubling allegations, so he’ll – at the very least – be absent for a while. The possibility remains that he’ll be cut.
Of course, we saved the biggest name for last. Danielle Hunter is arguably Minnesota’s best and most important player. The Vikings really, really need him to not only be back with the team but to be at full strength. When he is on, he’s a top-5 edge rusher in the NFL. Partner that with the fact that he’s only 26 and you can see why he’s such an integral part of the team.
Of course, missing the earliest moments of Vikings OTAs isn’t necessarily reason for panic, and we’d be wise to adjust our collective purple expectations about anything (positive or negative) we hear in the coming weeks. The hope, though, is that Zim and Slick Rick figure out the Hunter situation sooner rather than later. I know there is risk coming off an injury, but I’m saying they should give him more guaranteed money.