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Vikings’ left tackle Christian Darrisaw off to good start in quest to make first Pro Bowl

Pro Football Focus ranked Darrisaw as the Vikings’ top run blocker in the game against Detroit. And according to ESPN, Darrisaw is the fourth-best tackle in the NFL this season in its run-block

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) reacts with center Garrett Bradbury (56) and offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (71) after scoring a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- It’s only been three games, but Minnesota Vikings left tackle Christian Darrisaw is off to a good start in the quest to make his first Pro Bowl.

In Minnesota’s 28-24 win over Detroit on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, Darrisaw had perhaps the best game of his two-year NFL career. According to Pro Football Focus, he didn’t allow a single pressure on 47 pass-blocking snaps. And he was going at times against Lions rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who didn’t make a single tackle after having three sacks the previous week against Washington.

Pro Football Focus ranked Darrisaw as the Vikings’ top run blocker in the game. And according to ESPN, Darrisaw is the fourth-best tackle in the NFL this season in its run-block ratings.

Darrisaw said in June that he’s “trying to get to that Pro Bowl” this season. And Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell on Monday raved about his recent play.

“(Darrisaw) has had a really great start to his season,’’ O’Connell said. “I think he continues to kind of take the next steps with where he’s at in his growth as a player. … I’m just excited about the trajectory he’s on as a player and just continuing to evolve and becoming one of the premier left tackles in football is where he’s headed.’’

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Darrisaw has heard plenty of other praise. In August, during a joint practice with San Francisco, he met star 49ers left tackle Trent Williams for the first time. After going against Darrisaw for two straight days, the nine-time Pro Bowl selection said, “I do see a lot of myself in him, especially the young Trent.”

Through it all, Darrisaw is determined to maintain a level head.

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“I can’t really look too far ahead,’’ he said Monday. “I know I got to take it a day at a time and just continue to get better. If I take those steps, then I will be in that position hopefully (of being one of the NFL’s top left tackles).’’

Darrisaw was taken with the No. 23 pick in the 2021 NFL draft out of Virginia Tech. He missed time in spring drills, the entire preseason and the first three regular-season games with a groin issue before finally taking the field in Week 4. Darrisaw moved into the starting lineup in Week 6 and continued to get better as the season progressed.

Still, he was far from satisfied with the strides he made in 2021.

“From a pass-game perspective, I feel like last year that was one of my weaknesses and I really took it hard on myself,’’ he said. “Breaking down my film and watching my footwork and things like that, I just tried to break bad habits that I had in college and the type of stuff that I used to get away with.”

Darrisaw is pleased with the steps he has made so far in 2022 for the Vikings (2-1), who next face New Orleans and star defensive end Cameron Jordan on Sunday in London.

“I feel like I’ve been playing very well, especially from last season and coming into this season, I feel like there’s been way much more improvement in my game,’’ he said. “But there’s still room for improvement. … But definitely I feel like I took that step to become the player that I want to be.”

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As for Sunday’s showing against Hutchinson, Darrisaw gave plenty of credit also to Vikings right tackle Brian O’Neill. Darrisaw said the two “dominated” Hutchinson, who played 57 of Detroit’s 72 defensive snaps while lining up on both sides.

As far as Darrisaw is concerned, the praise for his play has continued. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard, who is in his seventh NFL season and first with the Vikings, sure likes what he has seen.

“His potential is high,’’ Bullard said Monday. “I know he works hard. I know he wants to be great. … If he puts his head down and continues to work hard and actually goes and hits that potential that he has, (he can be one of the NFL’s top left tackles).”

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