Rookie Ed Ingram has played in front of more than 100,000 fans at Tiger Stadium during his five seasons at LSU, but his Vikings debut on Sunday will feel different. Not only will he suit up for his first NFL game, but he’ll start at right guard against the Packers.
“I’m a little nervous, right?” Ingram said after Friday’s practice. “First time I’m going against professional guys right now. But in my mind, I try to not make it a big deal. I played in the SEC, so I played against a lot of these guys before.”
Ingram, a second-round draft pick, turned incremental improvement into more reps with the first-team offense this summer, and eventually earned the starting job at right guard. He won the competition over veterans Chris Reed and Jesse Davis, who was traded to the Steelers, to become the 18th different guard to start a regular-season game for the Vikings since 2016.
Coaches want to see Ingram take confidence from a strong summer into his debut.
“Take that experience, that feel of that game action with you into what’s going to be an exciting day for him,” head coach Kevin O’Connell said. “He’s earned it. From the very first day we got him here, he’s taken it one step at a time.”
Ingram will have a cheering section at U.S. Bank Stadium, where he said his mother and brother will be watching him play against Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark, one of the NFL’s best interior defenders.
“With all rookies, there’s going to be an adjustment process for him,” O’Connell said. “We expect a lot out of him this weekend and it’s going to be a challenge. These guys have some really good interior players.”
Cine, Bakhtiari questionable
First-round rookie safety Lewis Cine aggravated a knee injury on Thursday, did not practice Friday and is officially listed questionable to play. Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard (bicep) is also listed questionable after practicing fully on Friday. Running back Alexander Mattison is expected to play after missing practices Thursday and Friday because of a personal matter.
Cine “truly is questionable,” according to O’Connell. If Cine plays, he will have a limited role on defense behind starters Harrison Smith and Cam Bynum.
“Finding ways by down and distance, by situation,” O’Connell said. “And really kind of show off the versatility we feel we have not only in the front, but the guys on the back end as well.”
The Vikings still arrived to the opener relatively healthy after resting most starters throughout the preseason.
“We didn’t have too many injuries,” outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith said. “It’s good that coach is bringing something new to the system, showing what he did previously with the Rams. It really worked. He went and got a Super Bowl.”
The Packers will likely be without receiver Allen Lazard, who is listed doubtful and did not practice this week due to an ankle injury. While left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) returned to practice this week, he was held out Friday and is officially listed as questionable. Guard/tackle Elgton Jenkins (pectoral/knee) is also listed as questionable.
This content was originally published here.