Camryn Bynum & Ed Ingram are Battling for Starting Spots

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

In 2022, Camryn Bynum and Ed Ingram shared a notable accomplishment: playing every single snap of the season.

Yes, the safety and right guard were the only Vikings to get to 100% of the snaps, meaning the defense and offense could each boast a single player who displayed supreme durability. Despite their humongous roles for last year’s Vikings, Bynum and Ingram are battling for their jobs as the 2023 season nears.

NFL: New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Camryn Bynum (24) and safety Theo Jackson (25) and cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) in action during the game against the New York Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

At safety, the Vikings have a tremendous collection of talent. Harrison Smith, of course, stands out as a surefire starter when Week 1 arrives. Behind him is Bynum, Josh Metellus, and Lewis Cine.

Given all that has been said about him, Metellus will almost certainly be seeing a much larger role on defense. Maybe that just means seeing the field in nickel and dime, but don’t be shocked if he snags a starting spot. Moreover, Cine is a 1st-round talent who suffered a serious injury in Week 4 of his rookie season; the talent is there to usurp all contenders in the race for the starting free safety position.

Meanwhile, the right guard position doesn’t offer nearly the same amount of competition. Normally, Chris Reed would be pushing Ingram for a starting spot, but the veteran is recovering from an injury. In Reed’s stead is Blake Brandel, the backup offensive tackle who is now being tasked with kicking inside (at least temporarily).

Can the OT-turned-RG snag a starting spot? If so, what would he need to do? Keeping #8 off of the dirt would certainly be a good place to start.

The simple fact that Brandel showed great versatility on Thursday night while Ingram, a presumptive starter, was forced to play may suggest that we’re discussing a pair of o-linemen who are trending in different directions.

Camryn Bynum, Ed Ingram, & The 2023 Roster Competition

Bynum’s and Ingram’s 2022 numbers aren’t particularly flattering.

Camryn Bynum was able to snag 81 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 PDs, and 2 FRs. More concerning is that the defender was charged with allowing a 65.9% completion mark with a 16.5 yards-per-catch average. Both of those numbers are a dramatic step in the wrong direction from 2021 (50.0% & 7.8 YPC average). Quarterbacks had a 123.0 passer rating when going after him; he allowed 8 touchdowns, as well.

Meanwhile, Ingram had his own struggles.

Per PFF, the right guard committed 4 penalties. He allowed 11 sacks, 18 hits, and 58 pressures. Ingram’s capacity to show dramatic improvement over those numbers would go a long way in helping the Vikings to improve as an offense. Everyone can see that Kirk Cousins is getting hit too often, so less pressure right up the middle is a praiseworthy goal.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a touchdown pass while being rushed by Green Bay Packers defensive end Dean Lowry (94) as guard Ed Ingram (67) blocks during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

One thing that’s working in Ingram’s favor is that he’s a Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addition rather than a Rick Spielman addition. Bynum, a college corner, was brought in while Spielman and Mike Zimmer were still in town. So far, the new GM hasn’t shown too much loyalty to those brought in by his predecessor. Ingram doesn’t have the same obstacle, and the lack of options behind him certainly do give him a better shot at repeating as a starter.

The young RG picked up 1168 snaps last season.

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram (67) defends against Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Vernon Butler (94) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bynum, the proud owner of 1161 snaps in 2022, truly needs to re-earn his starting spot. The opening depth chart sees him alongside The Hitman as the other starting safety, but Kevin O’Connell was quick to remind us that we shouldn’t be looking too much into the unofficial depth chart. A lot needs to be determined before Week 1 arrives.

The Vikings played their opening preseason game on Thursday night, losing 24-13 to Seattle. The next one occurs on Saturday, August 19th when the Titans visit U.S. Bank Stadium. Starters are unlikely to see too much playing time, but the 2nd preseason game is the one where they’ll get some run if O’Connell wants to see what they can do.

Regardless of whether Bynum and/or Ingram are on the field, keep an eye on the safety and right guard competitions. Players at these spots have a lot to play for right now.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and PFF helped with this piece.

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