4 Vikings defensive players on the bubble entering training camp

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Cameron Smith
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Cameron Smith /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Hercules Mata’afa /

Hercules Mata’afa  -DT

Hercules Mata’afa was an exciting player in Vikings training camp a year ago. He was making all sorts of plays after coming off a season that ended before it began with an ACL injury.

Mata’afa showed plenty of interior pass-rush ability in the preseason, resulting in Minnesota and their fans becoming excited about his potential in 2019.

When the games began to count, however, Mata’afa’s play began to decline. He wasn’t getting into the opposing backfield as often and he appeared in just six games with one measly tackle. His 2019 season was very disappointing and it put a dark cloud around his future with the Vikings.

Mata’afa apparently bulked up in the offseason (up to around 290 pounds) and that should help his chances to earn a roster spot. What significantly increases his chances of making Minnesota’s final roster this year is the fact that Michael Pierce opted out for the season due to health concerns related to the COVID-19 virus.

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This created an extra spot on the Vikings’ defensive tackle depth chart. Mata’afa will now be in a battle with players like Jalyn Holmes and Jaleel Johnson to earn a roster spot and he is definitely on the bubble because of it.