After Ed Ingram was selected in the second round of the NFL draft in April, he came to Minnesota with an initial goal. On Sunday, he will reach it.
Ingram will start at right guard for the Vikings in their season opener against Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium. He is expected to be the team’s only rookie in the starting lineup.
“I came here expecting to work hard and pretty much getting a starting spot, and this is what I came for,” Ingram said Friday.
Nevertheless, Ingram expects there will be some nerves when he first lines up.
“I kind of feel a little nervous and stuff, a little jitters, what you expect to feel going into a game like that,” he said. “But I’m not trying to make it a big deal.”
The Vikings took tackle Brian O’Neill in the second round of the 2018 draft and guard Ezra Cleveland in the second round in 2020, but neither found their way into the starting as rookies until Week 6. First-year coach Kevin O’Connell is impressed with how quickly Ingram has gotten up to speed after being selected out of LSU.
“He’s earned (being a starter),” O’Connell said. “Ed, from the very first day we got him here, he’s kind of just taken it one step at a time, attacking the process we laid out for him, and has developed before our very eyes. As you know with all rookies, there’s going to be an adjustment process for him, and I’m excited about where Ed’s going, and expect a lot out of him this weekend.”
Ingram said he’s been getting valuable advice from other Minnesota offensive linemen. That includes left tackle Christian Darrisaw, a first-round draft pick in 2021 who moved into the lineup in Week 6 last year. He likely would have taken over the spot earlier had he not been recovering from a groin issue.
“We all love Ed,” Darrisaw said. “It’s like me last year coming in as a rookie and starting. Just take every play one play at a time. Just don’t try to overthink things. Just go out and play fast, whatever you do. Mistakes will happen. But even if you mess up, the next play, go attack it.”
Ingram is well aware what can happen if he messes up. He was asked the toughest thing to learn so far as an NFL offensive lineman.
“Toughest thing is like consistency, being on it,” Ingram said. “It’s like in college, you can take a few plays off, pass protection. I’m learning the NFL, you can’t take any plays off. If you take one play off, you’re getting beat, a sack.”
It remains to be seen if Vikings rookie safety Lewis Cine will make his NFL debut on Sunday.
Cine was listed as questionable due to a knee injury after being limited in practice Thursday and sitting out Friday’s workout.
“Lew Cine had a little aggravation of a previous injury,” O’Connell said. “He’s working through getting as much treatment as possible, and he truly is questionable for the game. Just something that kind of jumped up at him pre-practice (on Thursday).”
Cine, taken with the No. 32 pick in the first round of the 2022 draft out of Georgia, didn’t want to discuss his injury Friday. He remained hopeful of playing.
“It’d be huge, first game going out with my dawgs, playing,” he said. “That’d be huge. That’s the only thing I wish for, hope for. Only thing I want.”
The Vikings also listed first-string defensive end Jonathan Bullard (bicep) as questionable, but he was able to go through a full practice Friday after being limited Wednesday and Thursday. Defensive lineman Ross Blacklock, who said last week that Bullard would start in Week 1 as the replacement for the waived Armon Watts, has no doubt that Bullard will start Sunday.
“Bullard’s a full go, and I’ll rotate with him in and out, wherever they need me,” Blacklock said.
Backup running back Alexander Mattison missed practice Thursday and Friday due to a personal matter but O’Connell said he “fully expected Alexander to be ready to go.” A source said Mattison had a family situation but “everything is fine” and he “most definitely” will play against the Packers.
O’Connell said wide receiver Jalen Reagor, acquired last week from Philadelphia, will not only be the punt returner Sunday but also will be “in the mix” on offense. “He’s done a great job, and he’s earned the right,” O’Connell said. … The Packers listed wide receiver Allen Lazard (ankle) as doubtful and offensive linemen David Bakhtiari (knee) and Elgton Jenkins (pectoral/knee) as questionable.