Vikings guard Dalton Risner is "ready to go," head coach Kevin O'Connell said Monday, after the recently-signed veteran did not play against Carolina.
Risner got some first-team reps in practice last week, but the Vikings stuck with the same offensive line during Sunday's 21-13 win against the Panthers. O'Connell said he has liked "the way those guys have responded" after Dalton's Sept. 18 signing, referencing the incumbent blockers including guards Ezra Cleveland and Ed Ingram.
"We'll give [Risner] another good week of prep this week and that best five [starters] mentality is going to hold true," O'Connell said Monday. "I like the way those guys have responded, and I like the way that Dalton has kind of come in here and continues to grind away in his preparation and catching up scheme wise with where we're at."
Risner, 28, signed a one-year deal worth up to $4 million, just days after the Vikings' 34-28 loss in Philadelphia on Sept. 14.
Center Garrett Bradbury was "really close" to playing Sunday, O'Connell added, but he was held out for a third straight game due to a lower back injury.
Austin Schlottmann remained the starting center as quarterback Kirk Cousins was the least-pressured passer during Sunday's games, according to Pro Football Focus. He felt the heat on just 5 of 21 dropbacks (23.8%).
O'Connell said he enjoyed watching the Vikings' best rushing day of the season. Running backs Alexander Mattison and Cam Akers combined for 130 rushing yards on 22 carries in Carolina.
The O-line's brute force paved the way, O'Connell said.
"Outside of a couple plays here or there that are going to happen against a front like that, I thought they were really physical in the run game," O'Connell said. "We had 13 runs of five-plus [yards], really was able to be a huge reason why we were able to stay efficient. Did not have the day we wanted execution wise on third down, but I thought the run game was really kind of the driving force behind us being efficient and get[ting] some of the plays that we did in the pass game."
The Vikings converted just 1 of 8 third downs. The misfires on third down included Cousins' interception returned 99 yards for a touchdown.