Vikings News

Rejoice! Brian O’Neill On Track to be Ready Week 1

Brian O'Neill celebrates with teammates.

The Vikings are getting a significant boost for their offense with OT Brian O’Neill coming back from injury. The 27-year-old has been a tremendous starter for Minnesota. However, his 2023 New Year’s Day was less than ideal, as he suffered a partially torn Achilles on January 1st. Worse, the injury came in a woeful offensive performance against the rival Packers. He then landed on Injured Reserve and underwent successful surgery. He’s taking it slow and steady. That said, his recovery looks promising in his limited Training Camp return.

O’Neilll is one of the NFL’s top tackles when healthy. Since being drafted in the 2nd-round out of Pitt in 2018, he has consistently anchored the right side. His play earned him a massive 5-year contract extension worth $92,500,500 in 2021. He a 2021 Pro Bowl selection as well. Brian O’Neill finished with a spectacular 82.7 PFF grade in the 16 games before his injury. His name isn’t mentioned often during broadcasts, which is a promising sign as he rarely gets beaten.

The Vikings should have one of the best, if not the best, tackle duo in the NFL next season. Opposite O’Neill is third-year OT Christian Darrisaw who continues to play at an elite level protecting Kirk Cousins’ blindside. If O’Neill continues playing like he has the past few seasons, look for opposing defense to have a hard getting pressure from the edges.

Thankfully, his recovery has progressed well. O’Neill is participating more each day during Training Camp this offseason. He was working with the 1’s in the team period of practice last weekend, but likely will not participate in any preseason games. O’Neill told reporters, “I’m just trying to follow the plan they got for me. It’s time to shake off some rust. We’re right on schedule.”

It will be interesting to see how much work he gets during joint practices against the Tennessee Titans this week. Luckily there have been no setbacks so far. All signs point to his return Week One against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Minnesota can rejoice at the opportunity for solid offensive line play that escaped the team during its Wild Card loss to the New York Giants.

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