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Lunchbreak: Cameron Dantzler Excited for New Number, New Opportunities in 2022

Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler has a new jersey number and is hoping to make a whole new impact on the field in 2022.

Dantzler, who switched from 27 to 3 in the wake of the NFL's rule changes regarding certain positions, recently spoke with Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Dantzler said he's "checked all the boxes" this offseason to be a better player and is determined to show that this season. Tomasson wrote:

Dantzler hopes his offseason work will get him back to being a regular starter. As a rookie in 2020, Dantzler, a third-round draft pick out of Mississippi State, started 10 of the 11 games he played but part of that was because of the Vikings' depleted secondary at the time.

Dantzler initially looked primed to stay in the lineup in 2021. But last June the Vikings signed veteran cornerback Bashaud Breeland to a one-year, $3 million deal, and he beat out Dantzler in training camp. […] As it turned out, Dantzler did start four of the first 13 games, replacing Patrick Peterson, who had a hamstring injury and then was on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Then, after Breeland was released […] Dantzler was inserted into the lineup for the final four games. He said he was "ready when my name was called."

With Peterson's return for another season in Minnesota, Tomasson opined that Dantzler likely will compete with second-round draft pick Andrew Booth, Jr., for the other outside corner position.

"Last year was kind of a roller-coaster season, but I've gained my confidence back," Dantzler told Tomasson. "New staff. Fresh start. So I'm just ready to show what I can do this year.

"When we drafted [Booth], I was excited," Dantzler said. "I was glad to add some firepower in the secondary. Booth, he's a great player, and I'm going to love competing with him. "Whoever starts, it's whatever helps the team win at the end of the day. … But it's going to be a great battle."

And as far as the number change? Dantzler wanted to switch to 3 after wearing the single digit in college.

Punter Jordan Berry wore 3 last year but agreed to give it up for modest compensation. Berry, who switched to 16, said his only requirement was that Dantzler has to pay for 10 to 12 members of his family to get Vikings No. 16 jerseys with "Berry" on the back.

"I asked Jordan about it, and he's a great guy and he gave 3 to me to bring that swagger back that I had in college," Dantzler said.

Harrison Phillips is Vikings most underrated player, says Frelund

Vikings new DT Harrison Phillips has already made a tremendous impact on the Twin Cities community.

But NFL Network Analyst Expert Cynthia Frelund expects Phillips to also have a significant impact on the field … and even more than some are giving him credit for.

In a recent article, Frelund spotlighted the "most underrated player" from each NFC team, using the following metrics:

First, I calculated and then ranked each player's season-long contribution metric by team (win share). To sum it up without getting overly technical, contribution metric, or win share, measures each player's production during a season, in this case, the 2021 campaign. The metric encompasses a value for every snap by each player and reveals each player's contribution to the team's overall win total.

After making those calculations, I factored in each player's salary by position (contract data via Over The Cap) to add some context around who was being "underappreciated." I always try to give priority to players who do not switch teams this offseason (since it's harder to be underappreciated by a team you haven't played for yet), but this season that was significantly harder due to tons of free agent movement. […] Then I weighted players drafted in Round 2 or later who have been to no more than two Pro Bowls. That said, the most critical component to this method is contribution metric.

Frelund pointed to Phillips in Minnesota. She wrote:

My favorite computer vision stat on Phillips is the improvement he made after Week 9. His win share literally doubled from 0.38 to 0.77 at that turning point. His lateral movement on run stops was a big reason for his added value, as he kept his center of gravity low and feet aligned on 51.4 percent more snaps after Week 9. While Phillips' APY has him within the top 32 interior linemen, his 8.7 pressure rate last year was good enough to place him among the top 15 players at his position, per NGS.

To see Frelund's pick for underrated player on every other NFC team, click here.

NFL announces IR and practice squad rules for 2022

Every offseason, rules and guidelines from the previous season are scrutinized and determined to remain as-is or see an alteration.

The NFL recently rolled out its rules for Injured Reserve and practice squad for the 2022 campaign, and there are a few notable tweaks. CBS Sports' Jordan Dajani recapped the rules:

For [Injured Reserve], teams are permitted to return eight players from the IR list or reserve/non-football injury/illness list in 2022, per NFL Media. Last year, it was unlimited. Additionally, a player may be designated to return a maximum of two times in one season, with each return counting against the franchise's grand total of eight. A player designated to return is eligible to return to practice or the active/inactive list after four games have elapsed since he was placed on the reserve list.

As for the practice squad, the league is going to keep the number at 16 after being 10 just a few years ago, per NFL Media. The players who can be added to this group are players who do not have an accrued season of NFL experience, free agents who were on the active list for fewer than nine regular-season games during their only accrued season or seasons, and a maximum of 10 free agents who have earned no more than two accrued seasons. Teams can also have a maximum of six veterans with an unlimited [number] of accrued seasons on their practice squads, as long the players in the latter two categories don't exceed 10.

A practice squad player can be elevated for a maximum of three regular-season games in the same year and any number of postseason games without taking up a spot on the 53-man active roster. Last year it was just two.