As the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings prepare for an important divisional game this Sunday, the away team will be missing a key part of their offense. According to reports from Ben Goessling and Jordan Schultz, Vikings left tackle Christian Darrisaw will not play this week.
Darrisaw is coming off his second concussion of the season, and although he fully cleared protocol on Friday, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said that Minnesota was still going to do what they thought was best for the offensive lineman.
“He’ll go into the game with a questionable tag and we’re just going to keep working through what we think is best for Christian and communicating with him for the weekend,” O’Connell said Friday, per SI.com.
Any time a team is missing their starting left tackle, it’s a big deal, but it’s an even bigger deal with Darrisaw. The 2021 first-round pick has been playing like one of the best tackles in football. Per PFF, Darrisaw is the second-highest graded tackles in the NFL (90.0) and he has allowed just two sacks all season. His replacement—2020 sixth-round pick Blake Brandel—has only made two career starts (the last two weeks), and he has given up six sacks on the season already on about one-third of the snaps.
The timing for this is favorable to the Lions, as their pass rush is just starting to come into its own. Per Football Outsiders, since Week 9, the Lions’ pressure rate ranks 12th in the NFL. The emergence of sixth-round pick James Houston (three sack in last two games) has helped. And this week, the Lions are expected to get Romeo Okwara—who led the team with 10 sacks in 2020—back for the first time this season.
In the last matchup, the Lions sacked Kirk Cousins just once, but tallied seven quarterback hits. It could be a more more disruptive day for the Lions’ defensive front this week.