Vikings’ Mike Zimmer issues ultimatum to CB Cam Dantzler
The Minnesota Vikings’ best cornerback of the 2020 season disappeared last Sunday in the team’s season opener.
Second-year corner Cam Dantzler was a good scratch against the Cincinnati Bengals. His fall from grace coincided with the addition of veteran talent in starters Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander and Bashaud Breeland.
Breeland particularly struggled in the overtime loss to the Bengals. However, he still has a good grasp of the starting outside corner role that was once seen as Dantzler’s to lose.
It’s unclear when Dantzler will see a defensive representative this season. Coach Mike Zimmer issued an ultimatum that Dantzler had only one way to get back on the defensive side of the ball: to excel in special teams first.
“First he has to play against special teams,” Zimmer said at a press conference on September 15. “If you are a backup player, you have to play against special teams.”
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Dantzler’s cryptic response
Zimmer’s words did not fall silent to Dantzler.
Mississippi state’s 2020 third-round pick sent out a few cryptic tweets saying “Wow” and “Smh,” an acronym for “shaking your head.”
Both tweets have since been deleted as fans responded with a flurry of comments that fueled Dantzler’s frustration.
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Dantzler probably with the Vikings for the long haul
Dantzler’s disgrace was drastic. He was ranked as the NFL’s best corner kick by Pro Football Focus over seven weeks last season, producing a quarterback score of 31.1 when targeted.
Seen as an escape candidate by Pro Football Focus this season, Dantzler’s future with the team has been called into question following trade rumors involving the San Francisco 49ers.
As unhappy as Dantzler is with his current status on the team, the Vikings still lead the 23-year-old.
Dantzler, currently behind Peterson, Breeland and third-year corner Kris Boyd at the outside corner, has been asked to pay his special teams dues after struggling to produce positive results in the preseason.
“The only thing about this business is that it’s a production business,” defensive coordinator Andre Patterson said on KFAN, Inside the Vikings. “You have to go there and play well to be on the pitch. All the guys on the team, in all positions, are competing to go and play. And if you aren’t playing well enough and other guys are playing better than you are, you have to play against the guys who are playing better right now. The good thing is he can fix it. He can remedy this by the way he trains and the way he plays. Right now the guys in front of him are just playing better than him.
But with Peterson, Breeland and Alexander all on one-year contracts, the franchise’s future as a cornerback is unknown. Dantzler has two more years on his rookie contract, which makes him indispensable at the moment.
“It’s just all the skills that come with wedge play and competitiveness,” Patterson added. “So that’s what matters, you have to go there and you have to compete in training. If you cannot participate in training and you are not competitive in training, then you will not be able to go out and play matches. Like I said, the good part is that it can fix it. He’s pretty talented, it’s just a matter of going over there and fixing it.