Vikings could be without Michael Pierce for a bit after injury

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The Vikings ponied up to sign Michael Pierce last offseason, and it looks like they’ll still have to wait to see him on the field.

The Minnesota Vikings signed Michael Pierce to a three-year, $27 million contract last offseason to be their new nose tackle. But he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concersn and did not play. Now, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, he suffered a calf injury while training and his status for the start of training camp is in doubt.

The injury is not expected to keep Pierce off the field too long, and his status for the start of the season is not in question at this point. But it’s not a great foot to start off on before camp even starts, as the Vikings look to rebound from a bad season defensively in 2020.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer once notably said he had never coached a bad defense. That changed last year, as Minnesota was 29th in scoring defense and 25th against the pass with an unproven group of corners. But a 27th-ranked run defense (134.4 yards per game) was a particular eyesore, as linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks missed time and there was little resistance from the middle of the defensive line.

The Vikings need Michael Pierce to be available when it matters

The Vikings made an effort to fortify the defense this offseason. In particular, the signing of Dalvin Tomlinson promises to give them a solid run-stuffing defensive tackle duo this year with Pierce in the fold.

Again, Pierce’s status for Week 1 is not in doubt at this point. He’ll definitely be treated with kid gloves early in camp to assure his leg injury heals fully and does not linger. Having their biggest 2020 free agent signing ready to go when games matter is the top priority here for the Vikings. If that means he does not play in preseason games, that’s what will be done.

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