The refurbished Vikings defense is set to debut against the Packers, with defensive end Danielle Hunter the only starter sidelined.
For a refresher, over half (6 of 11 starting jobs) changed hands from last year’s Week 1 defense, starting with cornerbacks Mike Hughes and Holton Hill down to new defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who will start 10 days after passing COVID-19 testing protocols to enter TCO Performance Center.
Here’s the official game-day depth chart:
LE Danielle Hunter (replaced by Ifeadi Odenigbo*)
NT Shamar Stephen
DT Jaleel Johnson*
RE Yannick Ngakoue*
SLB Anthony Barr
MLB Eric Kendricks
WLB Eric Wilson*
LCB Mike Hughes*
RCB Holton Hill*
SS Harrison Smith
FS Anthony Harris
*new Week 1 starter
Wilson, the fourth-year linebacker, isn’t really a “new starter,” since he’s made 10 spot starts over the past two years for the Vikings, but he’ll replace Ben Gedeon (reserve/PUP) from last year’s Week 1 lineup.
For Ngakoue, he’s being asked to adjust to a “big difference” between the Jaguars and Vikings defenses.
“Not just the terminology being different,” co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson said, “but how we ask our guys to play is so much different, too. I think that’s the part of him having a sense of urgency to put in the time and effort.”
Undrafted receiver Dan Chisena is active over Chad Beebe, who was being eased back into team work this offseason following ankle surgery.
Vikings’ inactives: G Ezra Cleveland, LB Ryan Connelly, CB Harrison Hand, DE D.J. Wonnum, DT James Lynch and WR Chad Beebe
Packers’ inactives: G/T Billy Turner (knee), DL Montravius Adams (toe), LB Randy Ramsey (groin), S Raven Greene (quad), QB Jordan Love, CB Parry Nickerson, WR Equanimeous St. Brown
A cluster of cardboard fans and sponsored signage covering the front rows of U.S. Bank Stadium have replaced fans, who are not allowed to attend the first two home games, at least. The Vikings included many former players in the cardboard crowd, from Brian Robison to Jim Marshall. A row above the crowd honors the late head coach Dennis Green and defensive end Chris Doleman, among others.
For the first time since the Gjallarhorn was introduced as a pregame element in 2007, the Vikings will not sound the horn before kickoff as part of recognizing the family of George Floyd who are scheduled to be in attendance.