Minnesota Vikings release offensive lineman Pat Elflein

EAGAN, Minn. -- One day after he was activated off injured reserve, Minnesota Vikings guard Pat Elflein was released by the team on Saturday morning.

Elflein, a 2017 third-round pick, had been recovering from a thumb injury he sustained in practice two months ago. He played in Minnesota's season-opening loss to Green Bay and was moved to IR on Sept. 17. Elflein returned to practice on Oct. 28, which opened a 21-day window for the team to activate him.

The veteran offensive lineman will now go on waivers.

His release comes as a bit of a surprise given the Vikings' choice to release him instead of keeping him to fill out depth.

"We just felt like we had some better options," coach Mike Zimmer said.

Elflein, 26, was moved to right guard in 2020 after spending last season at left guard, a move made after the Vikings drafted center Garrett Bradbury with the 18th overall pick in 2019. Elflein played center for his first two seasons with the Vikings after winning the Rimington Trophy at Ohio State.

A shoulder injury in December 2017 and broken ankle sustained in the NFC Championship Game forced Elflein to undergo surgery the following offseason. His recovery took longer than the team had anticipated and eventually played a role in Minnesota choosing to move him on the line after his second season.

Dru Samia filled in at right guard after Elflein sustained his injury in September but was later replaced by second-rounder Ezra Cleveland.

Cleveland, a left tackle for three seasons at Boise State, had never played right guard in his career.