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Rookie Christian Darrisaw Ready for Any Role After Debut at Left Tackle

EAGAN, Minn. — Christian Darrisaw wasn't sure exactly when he was going to take the field Sunday against the Lions.

But once the rookie left tackle did, the rush was like no other.

"Just being out there, it was fun," Darrisaw said Friday. "Scoring on that first drive, scoring a touchdown. It was amazing. It was a great feeling."

Darrisaw played 28 snaps in his offensive debut, with starter Rashod Hill playing 39. With the Panthers on tap in Week 6, Darrisaw said he's taking the same approach whether he starts or rotates in again.

"That's up to Coach [Zimmer]. Whatever he does, I'll be ready," Darrisaw said. "If it's like last week, I'm ready."

Darrisaw had a solid debut in Purple.

Analytics website Pro Football Focus gave him a 60.0 overall grade, which included a 60.4 grade on 16 pass-blocking snaps with no pressures allowed. Darrisaw had a 57.7 mark on run plays.

Zimmer said he came away encouraged by Darrisaw's play, especially in the run game.

"I think the biggest thing was his athleticism," Zimmer said. "He could get to the backside guy and cut him off. He could get to the backside linebacker. Just the quickness that he has."

Hill, for what it's worth, earned a 54.2 overall grade from PFF. He had a 52.0 mark on 17 run plays, and graded out at 53.2 on 22 pass plays that included two pressures and a sack allowed.

The 22-year-old Darrisaw said he's leaned on, and learned from, the 29-year-old Hill so far this season.

"Really, I've been learning the mental things of the game and everything that comes with it," Darrisaw said. "Even if you have a bad play, great play … you've just got to move on and attack the next play. One play at a time, really. That's the mindset you've got to have in this league."

Darrisaw made his NFL debut in Week 4 with a single snap on special teams. But the chance to play a few offensive series this past weekend was affirmation for his hard work over the past few months.

Darrisaw, the No. 23 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, had groin surgery in January after his junior season at Virginia Tech.

The issue flared up over the summer, and he underwent a minor procedure in mid-August. But Darrisaw said he trusted Eric Sugarman, the Vikings Vice President of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer, and his staff on his return to the field.

"Mentally, it was a lot. But I overcame it," Darrisaw said. "The support staff here, they were in my ear and talking to me and things like that. It made it easy for me to be where I'm at now.

"Really, you've got to know you're in the NFL and this is the highest level of the game," Darrisaw later added about Sugarman and his staff. "The thing was, they're not going to put you in a bad position or make you go out there and look bad. It was one of things where you have to trust them and be all-in. If you're not, you might not heal up right or little things like that."

Darrisaw said he pondered many questions over the past few months, including when he'd he clear the hurdle and be able to play.

"We're finally here, so it's time to go," Darrisaw said.

Darrisaw is expected to see the field again Sunday, but it remains to be seen if he gets his first NFL start or rotates with Hill again.

"Really pleased with Christian," said Vikings Offensive Coordinator Klint Kubiak. "He's been practicing hard in the limited time that he's gotten.

"These practices are so critical … we're going to keep building him up," Kubiak added. "I thought he protected very well. He took a really positive first step."