Vikings TE Johnny Mundt says post-surgery knee ‘felt great’ in exhibition opener
Mundt injured his knee last October as a member of the Rams
EAGAN, Minn. — Nearly 10 months after tearing his ACL, Minnesota Vikings tight end Johnny Mundt took the field last Sunday for his first game back. And everything checked out.
Mundt, who spent last year with the Los Angeles Rams, was lost for the season due to the knee injury suffered Oct. 17, 2021 against the New York Giants. He signed with the Vikings in March, then saw his first game action with his new team — eight plays as the starter — in a 26-20 loss at Las Vegas in the preseason opener.
“It felt good to put the pads back on, especially after suffering an ACL,” said Mundt, who was not targeted against the Raiders. “It felt great getting out there and just checking that box. So step by step, feeling great.”
Mundt was limited during spring drills while still recovering from surgery but was a full participant when training camp got underway July 27. Since starter Irv Smith Jr. suffered a thumb injury on Aug. 1, Mundt has been working with the first team.
With Smith out for the entire preseason, Mundt could start again in the final two games, which are Saturday night against San Francisco at U.S. Bank Stadium and Aug. 27 at Denver. But head coach Kevin O’Connell reiterated Thursday that Smith, who underwent surgery Aug. 2, is expected back in the lineup for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against Green Bay.
Mundt is likely to begin the season as the backup but still could be targeted more than in the past. Mundt, primarily used as a blocker, caught just 10 passes in five seasons with the Rams. But Minnesota coaches have talked about his ability as a receiver, and he has shown it off during training camp.
“I’ll just run the play that’s called and get open as best as I can,” Mundt said. “I’ll always be ready.”
Vikings defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson and nose tackle Harrison Phillips have developed a close bond since Phillips joined the team in March. But they did know each other a bit before then.
In 2020, Tomlinson was nominated by the New York Giants for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, and Phillips was nominated for the award by the Buffalo Bills. The two joined other nominees at Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Fla., in February 2021.
“We had pulled up an old picture at the Super Bowl when we were there together,” Tomlinson said of getting together with Phillips earlier this year. “We took a picture together with Tiger Woods and stuff. It was crazy.”
The month after that Super Bowl, Tomlinson signed as a free agent with the Vikings. A year later, Phillips, after being nominated by the Bills for Man of the Year for a second straight season, signed with Minnesota.
Twyman gets 'A-plus'
Last Sunday, Vikings defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman played in his first football game since 2019. He was in for 16 plays on defense, which was enough to impress defensive coordinator Ed Donatell.
Twyman played in the Quick Lane Bowl for the University of Pittsburgh on Dec. 26, 2019 before opting out in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. He was selected in the sixth round of the draft by the Vikings in 2021, but missed his rookie season after being shot four times in June 2021 in his native Washington D.C.
“Wow. I thought (he did) really well, when you think about a guy going two years without playing football,” Donatell said of Twyman, who had three tackles against the Raiders. “We have guys miss a month and they’re really rusty, so you’d have to give this guy an A-plus for coming into live action, because everything’s a lot faster.”
Veteran Jesse Davis is first on the depth chart at offensive guard but rookie Ed Ingram worked with the first team during Minnesota’s joint practices with the 49ers on Wednesday and Thursday. O’Connell said Ingram “continues to ascend” and is “having a good camp” but still needs to show continued improvement. … San Francisco star left tackle Trent Williams was asked about going against Vikings star edge rusher Danielle Hunter, and he joked, “I hate Danielle.” In reality, the two have great respect for one another and have worked out together during previous offseasons. … Tomlinson called the joint practices “super beneficial” to go against another team and that they were especially important for Minnesota’s young players.
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