Mackensie Alexander

Vikings Place Mackensie Alexander On IR

Mackensie Alexander‘s season is over. On Friday, the Vikings placed the cornerback on injured reserve, ruling him out the rest of the postseason. 

Alexander was already ruled out for Saturday’s divisional round game against the 49ers after undergoing arthroscopic surgery for a lateral meniscus tear. They got past the Saints without him, but he’ll be badly missed this week as they push to reach the NFC title game.

The Vikings’ remaining group of active cornerbacks – Trae WaynesXavier Rhodes, and Holton Hill – will be tasked with holding down the fort yet again as they face the Niners’ potent offense. They’ll be joined by CB Nate Meadors, who was called up to the 53-man roster to take Alexander’s place.

If the Vikings lose to the Niners, that could mark the end of Alexander’s career in purple. The cornerback is scheduled to reach free agency in March.

The Vikings will also be without safety Jayron Kearse, who has been ruled out for this week. On the other side of the ball, the Vikings are keeping their fingers crossed for Adam Thielen and his stitched ankle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings’ Mackensie Alexander To Have Surgery

The Vikings won’t have Mackensie Alexander on the field for Saturday’s game against the 49ers. The cornerback will undergo arthroscopic surgery for the small tear in his lateral meniscus, a source tells NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). 

On the plus side – Alexander’s season isn’t necessarily over. If the Vikings advance, Alexander could conceivably return for the NFC title game or the Super Bowl.

The Vikings managed to upset the Saints in the opening round of the playoffs, despite not having Alexander or Mike Hughes on the field. Their other cornerbacks – Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes, and Holton Hill – will be tasked with holding down the fort yet again as they face the Niners’ potent offense.

If the Vikings fall to the Niners, that could mark the end of Alexander’s career in purple. The cornerback is scheduled to reach free agency in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings’ Mackensie Alexander May Need Surgery

On Sunday, the Vikings got past the Saints without Mackensie Alexander. They might not have him for the rest of the postseason, either. 

Alexander is meeting with doctors to determine whether he needs surgery on his injured knee, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Alexander is dealing with a small tear to his lateral meniscus, so it could go either way. A final decision is expected to come by the end of business on Tuesday, which will give the Vikings some time to formulate a game plan in advance of Saturday’s showdown with the 49ers.

The Vikings are already without Mike Hughes, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Friday. Without Alexander or Hughes, the Vikings deployed Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes, and Holton Hill at cornerback in their overtime victory.

Alexander, the No. 54 overall pick in the 2016 draft, is scheduled to reach free agency in March. Whether or not he returns to the Vikings, he’ll see a major pay bump from his four-year, $4.316MM rookie deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Place Mike Hughes On IR

The Vikings will head into the playoffs without the services of Mike Hughes. On Friday, the Vikes placed the cornerback on injured reserve with a neck injury.

Hughes, a 2018 first-round pick, figured to see an increased role against the Saints in the Wild Card round as Mackensie Alexander nurses a knee injury. Now, the Vikings are without both corners for the big game on Sunday.

Hughes played in 14 games (three starts) in 2019, logging one interception, two forced fumbles, and 43 total tackles. The Vikings already had their work cut out for them with Michael Thomas & Co., but things are looking extra bleak for them at this moment.

To fill in at cornerback, the Vikings re-signed old friend Marcus Sherels. Sherels, a Minnesota native, spent nine straight seasons with the Vikings. From 2011-18, Sherels returned 231 punts for 2,447 yards (10.6 average) and five touchdowns, setting franchise records in all three categories.

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No Extension Talks For Vikings, Mackensie Alexander

We heard earlier today that the Vikings were looking to lock up one member of their 2016 draft class, defensive end Stephen Weatherly. Non-first round 2016 draft picks are set to be free agents after this season, so this is a natural time to begin discussing deals. 

But while the Vikings have clearly made Weatherly a priority, a source told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link) that there haven’t been any such extension talks between Minnesota and Mackensie Alexander. Alexander, a cornerback, was a much earlier draft pick than Weatherly, as the Vikes took Alexander 54th overall out of Clemson in 2016. Despite his draft status, Alexander has struggled for consistent playing time because of the roadblocks in front of him on the depth chart.

That being said, he did play a very large role for the Vikings last year. He made 15 appearances and six starts, racking up 43 tackles, ten passes defended, and four sacks. Overall, he played just over 54 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. He received strong grades from Pro Football Focus, grading out as their 17th-best cornerback.

As of right now, he has Trae Waynes, 2018 first-rounder Mike Hughes, and Xavier Rhodes ahead of him. We’ve heard recently that the Vikings are listening to trade offers on Waynes and Rhodes, and Hughes is coming off an ACL tear, so they might end up needing Alexander. But as of right now, it doesn’t look like they’re dying to extend him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Hundley, K. White, Hurst

Although many have assumed that the Packers will keep DeShone Kizer on their final roster — after all, Kizer is just one year removed from being a second-round draft pick, and Green Bay liked him enough to trade for him this offseason — Eric Baranczyk and Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com believe the Packers should keep Brett Hundley and cut Kizer if it comes to that. Baranczyk and Dougherty say the game has slowed more for Hundley than it has for Kizer, and the fact that Green Bay recently traded for Kizer should not be a factor in the team’s decision (after all, the Packers were likely to cut Damarious Randall anyway if Cleveland hadn’t been willing to deal Kizer for him). Ideally, the Packers would be able to swing a trade for one of Hundley or Kizer, but failing that, the Packers News scribes think GM Brian Gutekunst should stick with Hundley, who did not play very well in relief of the injured Aaron Rodgers last year.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the league’s North divisions:

  • Wide receivers Kevin White and Javon Wims both improved their chances of making the Bears‘ 53-man roster during Chicago’s preseason victory over Kansas City last night, as Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. White, of course, was the No. 7 overall pick of the 2015 draft — and GM Ryan Pace‘s first-ever draft choice — but injuries have almost completely wiped out the first three years of his NFL career. Wims was a seventh-round selection in this year’s draft, and Jahns believes the Bears should keep both players and six receivers overall, including Josh Bellamy.
  • Although Mackensie Alexander is battling an ankle injury, he is expected to start as the Vikings‘ slot corner — and “quarterback of the defense” in head coach Mike Zimmer‘s scheme — if he is healthy, as Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune reports. However, first-round rookie Mike Hughes — who is also battling an undisclosed injury — has been pushing for first-team reps, which is fairly remarkable when considering that he did not play in the slot in college. Hughes could overtake Alexander down the line, but in any case, Minnesota appears to be well-set at the position in the long-term. Alexander, a 2016 second-rounder, has made tremendous strides in his third summer with the club.
  • Though they had been enjoying an injury- and drama-free offseason, the Ravens have been hit hard with unwelcome news over the past few days. They lost rookie TE Hayden Hurst for three-to-four weeks, they saw star CB Jimmy Smith suspended for four games — though they at least knew that was coming — and now Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic has more bad news to report. Zrebiec tweets that emerging third-year defensive tackle Willie Henry will miss several weeks with a hernia, while promising rookie safety DeShon Elliott may be out for the season with a forearm injury. Zrebiec adds that the recent spate of bad luck will impact Baltimore’s initial roster construction, because while the team will likely carry Hurst and Henry on the 53-man roster until they are ready to return, the Ravens may need to keep an extra tight end and defensive lineman until that happens (Twitter link). Elliott, meanwhile, is an IR candidate. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports that Henry had surgery for his hernia and Hurst has had surgery for the stress fracture in his foot (Twitter links).
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson wants to keep six wide receivers on the team’s regular-season roster, as Steve Doerschuk of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and Rashard Higgins make up four of those six wideouts, while sixth-round rookie Damion Ratley also stands a good chance. That means veteran Jeff Janis and relative unknowns Derrick WilliesDa’Mari Scott, and C.J. Board could be fighting it out for the last spot.

Vikings Reach Deals With Four Draft Picks

The Vikings have been the most active team so far when it comes to locking up their draft picks. After officially announcing the signing of German wideout Moritz Boehringer earlier this week, the team has now reached agreements with four other draftees, including second-round cornerback Mackensie Alexander, writes Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.Mackensie Alexander (Vertical)

In addition to Alexander, the Vikings have agreed to terms with sixth-round tight end David Morgan, seventh-round linebacker Stephen Weatherly, and seventh-round safety Jayron Kearse. All four players are expected to formally sign their rookie contracts on Thursday. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News first reported word of Morgan’s agreement (via Twitter), while Tomasson had the rest.

Contract negotiations with rookie draftees are easy than they used to be, since the total value of a rookie contract, along with the signing bonus, is essentially predetermined by where a player is drafted. For the Vikings, Alexander will get a signing bonus worth about $1.4MM on his four-year contract. Morgan, Weatherly, and Kearse are in line for bonuses of about $135K, $81K, and $64K, respectively, per Over the Cap.

With five members of their eight-man draft class having agreed to terms, the Vikes will just have to get first-round wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, fourth-round offensive lineman Willie Beavers, and fifth-round linebacker Kentrell Brothers under contract. That’s expected to happen very soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Cards, Giants, Cravens, Lions, Vikings

A participant in the NFL draft since the inaugural selection gathering in 1936, the Giants did not take a lineman for the first time in team history this weekend. However, offensive line was a priority going into the draft, a source tells Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, and Jack Conklin was a top-two choice on the Giants’ board before he went No. 8 to the Titans.

There were discussions here or there,” Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross told media, including Vacchiano. “But nobody at the time who was the highest-ranked player on our board, or close to that.”

After cutting Will Beatty and Geoff Schwartz prior to the start of free agency, the Giants spent wildly to upgrade their defense but have left their offensive front unchanged. Marshall Newhouse and John Jerry remain atop the depth chart at right tackle and right guard, respectively. Ben McAdoo told media after the draft the right side of the Giants’ line is far from settled.

Here’s the latest from the NFC coming out of draft weekend.

  • A hybrid linebacker/safety at USC, Su’a Cravens will begin his career with Washington at safety, Stephen Czarda writes for the team’s website. The 20-year-old Cravens started his career as a true freshman in 2013 as a strong safety before moving to an outside linebacker/safety hybrid role in the ensuing two seasons in Los Angeles. He compiled 10.5 career sacks and nine interceptions in three seasons.
  • Thanks to former teammate Laremy Tunsil‘s unfortunate Thursday night, Robert Nkemdiche‘s name didn’t come up much during Round 1 until the Cardinals took the polarizing Ole Miss defensive lineman at No. 29. The Cardinals did their due diligence on the former No. 1 overall recruit, meeting with him on four occasions, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic writes.
  • Drafting for need has become a somewhat of a frowned-upon phrase in modern drafting, but the Cardinals were pleased their picks filled some of their depth chart’s key voids, Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910 reports (TwitLonger link). “This is not always the goal, because we said we were going to trust our board,” GM Steve Keim said, “but we filled needs with players we’re excited about. That’s not always the case when you walk away from the draft.” After Nkemdiche in the first and a second-round pick that went toward fortifying their pass rush in the Chandler Jones trade, Arizona selected two corners — Brandon Williams and Harlon Miller — and after losing Ted Larsen in the offseason selected a center in Evan Boehm.
  • Under new GM Bob Quinn, the Lions are expected to give UDFAs base salary guarantees, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports (on Twitter). This is a tactic the Lions haven’t used in the recent past, although Quinn’s former organization, the Patriots, as Birkett writes, do so often. Although the Lions haven’t unveiled their UDFA contingent yet, offensive lineman Chase Farris is expected to be among them. Birkett reports (via Twitter) the Ohio State product will have $10K of his base salary guaranteed in addition to a $10K signing bonus.
  • The Vikings are expected to place Mackensie Alexander behind Captain Munnerlyn at slot corner, Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Vensel offers that Alexander’s selection — the Vikings’ third cornerback taken in the top two rounds in the past four years, joining Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes — could bring about an end to Munnerlyn’s tenure in Minnesota after 2016. Munnerlyn was the Vikings’ top corner in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus. The 28-year-old corner is entering the final season of a three-year contract.

Pauline’s Latest: Dolphins, Cowboys, Chiefs, Giants

Here’s the latest from Tony Pauline of WalterFootball.com entering the second day of the draft:

  • After the Dolphins used the 13th pick on Laremy Tunsil, they called veteran left tackle Branden Albert and assured him he’ll remain at his current position and Tunsil will play left guard.
  • The Cowboys “covet” Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah going into the second round, per Pauline, who dismisses the idea that they’re instead after Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa or Eastern Kentucky edge rusher Noah Spence. Dallas holds the 34th selection but could end up moving down, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones (link via ESPN’s Todd Archer).
  • Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander is unlikely to get past the Chiefs at No. 37, reports Pauline.
  • The Giants are targeting offensive linemen and safeties entering Day 2, meaning Clemson safety T.J. Green could be a fit for the team at No. 40. Like Big Blue, the Steelers and Vikings are also eyeing safeties.

Pauline’s Latest: Browns, Top 5, Alexander, Bears

The Browns are shopping the No. 2 pick, but if they aren’t able to move it, they could end up selecting Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil and then trading nine-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, several general managers have told Tony Pauline of WalterFootball.com. If Tunsil to Cleveland happens, those GMs expect Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey to land with the Chargers at No. 3, North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz to become the newest member of the Cowboys at No. 4, and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack to go fifth to the Jaguars.

Here are more early round draft rumors from Pauline:

  • Despite possessing first-round-caliber talent, Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander could drop to the second round because of his attitude. Some of Alexander’s Clemson coaches have given him unfavorable reviews to inquiring NFL teams, and clubs are weighing whether he’d be worth a first-rounder as a result.
  • The Bears, who hold the 11th pick, are giving serious consideration to Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
  • Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa is a possibility for both the Colts and Saints in the first round. Indy could turn to Correa at No. 18 if Georgia’s Leonard Floyd is off the board and it deems Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence as too risky. The Saints, meanwhile, might move down from 12th to grab Correa.
  • Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell could head to the Jets in the second round if they don’t grab an LB with their first selection.