Trae Waynes had to wait until Week 3 to play his first defensive snap in the NFL, but the delay made for a special debut against his former high school teammate Melvin Gordon.
The Vikings’ 2015 first-round draft pick subbed for the injured Xavier Rhodes throughout the entire second half of a 31-14 victory. He never got a chance to go head-to-head against San Diego running back Gordon, a fellow Kenosha, Wis., native, but had four tackles, assisted on fifth and had one pass defended.
“I didn’t get a chance to tackle him. I wanted to,” Waynes said. “It’s just a dream come true, something we’ve been talking about since middle school and we were finally able to make it happen.”
Waynes arguably outplayed his best friend Gordon, who finished with 14 carries for 51 yards in his third game with San Diego.
Waynes deflected a pass that nearly turned into his first career interception, but he couldn’t hold onto the ball thrown by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
“I just stayed patient and read the receiver and broke on the ball,” Waynes said. “Just unfortunately, I didn’t catch it. I’m going to see that [in my dreams] for a while.
“It was really important to [make an impact right away]. They say veteran quarterback are going to go against rookies until you stand up for yourself and that’s what I tried to do.”
Waynes recorded a tackle on his first defensive snap and a second on the Chargers’ following drive.
He could see more playing time in coming weeks with Rhodes’ status uncertain. The cornerback was diagnosed with a concussion and will have to clear the NFL’s concussion protocol before returning to action.