Vikings reveal why Cam Dantzler was benched in Week 2

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Cameron Dantzler
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Cameron Dantzler /

Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell shared why cornerback Cameron Dantzler wasn’t on the field during the end of the team’s Week 2 game.

Midway through the third quarter of their Week 2 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings decided to take cornerback Cameron Dantzler out of the game and replace him with rookie Akayleb Evans.

Dantzler didn’t play another snap in the matchup after the Vikings sent him to the bench in the third quarter.

Why did Minnesota take him out of the game? Was Dantzler hurt? Was it due to his performance? On Thursday, we might have found out the real answer.

Minnesota Vikings downplay benching of Cam Dantzler in Week 2

Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell met with the local media on Thursday and he was asked to evaluate the performance of Dantzler in Philadelphia.

"“He played hard. He played tough in that game, you can’t take anything away from that.”"

Then, unprompted, Donatell went on to explain why Dantzler wasn’t on the field at the end of the matchup.

"“We’ll make substitutions different than that. You may see a different young player in certain weeks that we just want to take a look at because our young players are going to be in there no matter what. They have to play during the season.So [Dantzler] had played plenty of plays and we gave him a little rest there. But he’ll be back in there ready to go this week.”"

Judging from what Donatell said, it doesn’t sound like the removal of Dantzler from the Week 2 contest was performance-based. However, Minnesota’s veteran defensive coordinator could also just not be telling the truth to protect the corner from a large amount of outside scrutiny.

In his second start of the season, Dantzler received the highest pass coverage grade from PFF on the Vikings roster in Week 2. He also had the second-highest overall defensive grade from PFF on Minnesota’s roster in their loss to the Eagles.

So maybe Donatell was telling the truth and the Vikings truly wanted to get a look at a one of their younger corners against Philadelphia. Minnesota was trailing by 17 points when Dantzler left the game in the third quarter, so there’s a good chance that Donatell treated the last 20 minutes of regulation more as an evaluation period.

The Vikings defensive coordinator said he expects Dantzler to be ready on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, so it doesn’t sound like he’s lost his starting job yet. Could that happen in the future? Sure, but for now, Dantzler’s role in the defense appears to be safe.

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