Vikings Rumors: Ivan Pace Jr. hype doused with cold water
One of the biggest stars for the Vikings both in training camp and in the preseason action to this point has been UDFA linebacker Ivan Pace Jr., who was wildly productive in college at Cincinnati and has proven why to new defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
Pace has been such a standout performer in the preseason and in camp that he's worked his way rapidly up the depth chart to working with the first-string defense. This has led to plenty of buzz that the undrafted rookie could actually be part of the starting unit come Week 1 against the Buccaneers.
We might need to pump the brakes on that, though.
As Dustin Baker of Vikings Territory noted, Brian Asamoah returned from an injury that had, in large part, helped pave the way for Pace to get on the field and prove himself, which he obviously did, with the first-team defense. But Asamoah's injury was less serious than expected by some, and he's now the likely option to start alongside Jordan Hicks on defense when Week 1 rolls around.
Asamoah and Pace, however, are similar players at the position, both traditionally undersized but with great speed and movement skills. Pace will surely still see some reps and perhaps be the first man off of the bench when the starters are in need of a breather or, in a worse scenario, if another injury were to occur. There's still clearly a role for the UDFA to play.
Unfortunately given all of the hype around the rookie, though, it doesn't appear like him working his way into a starting role is the reality of the situation anymore with the return of Asamoah and still three weeks to get back up to speed from his injury before Week 1.