Vikings place starting o-linemen O'Neill, Schlottman on IR

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings placed right tackle Brian O'Neill and center Austin Schlottman on injured reserve on Tuesday, all but ending the season for two starters on the precipice of the playoffs.

The Vikings signed eight-year veteran center Greg Mancz to give them another option at a vital position after O'Neill suffered a significant calf injury and Schlottman broke his lower leg in the first quarter of Minnesota's 41-17 loss at Green Bay on Sunday.

Chris Reed, who'd played exclusively at guard in his NFL career, replaced Schlottman and was frequently out of sync. The Vikings had five penalties up front against the Packers: two delay of games, two false starts and one holding. Oli Udoh took over at right tackle, with primary backup Blake Brandel already on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Schlottman had already been filling in for regular center Garrett Bradbury, who has missed the past four games with a lower back injury. O'Neill and Schlottman must miss a minimum of four games, so the only way they could return would be for the Super Bowl if the Vikings (12-4) were to make it.

The offensive line situation has made any advancement in the playoffs a more challenging task. O'Neill has been a fixture on the right side of the line since being drafted in the second round in 2018, never missing a game to injury until now.

Mancz was waived by Cleveland on Dec. 23. He has played in 64 games in the NFL with 32 starts, having previously spent time with Buffalo, Miami and Houston.

The Vikings also signed tackle Bobby Evans to the practice squad. He was waived last week by the Los Angeles Rams, who drafted him in the third round in 2019. Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell was offensive coordinator of the Rams the previous two seasons, and Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips was an assistant for the Rams for three years prior to following O'Connell to Minnesota.

The Vikings, who have won the NFC North and will host a game in the first round of the playoffs, are scheduled to play at Chicago on Sunday.

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The Associated Press