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Vikings release veteran guard Pat Elflein, a day after activating him from injured reserve

NFL: NFC Championship-Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Jan 21, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long (56) recovers a fumble during the second quarter against Minnesota Vikings center Pat Elflein (65) in the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

A day after activating Pat Elflein from injured reserve, the Vikings released the veteran guard on Saturday. The move makes it clear that Ezra Cleveland has won the starting right guard job for the rest of the season.

Elflein opened the season at right guard before suffering a thumb injury in practice that landed him on injured reserve.

A third-round pick in 2017, Elflein was injured after the Vikings’ loss to the Packers in Week 1. He was initially replaced at right guard by Dru Samia for four games and then by Cleveland for the past three games. Cleveland, a second-round pick in last April’s draft, is expected to eventually replace Riley Reiff at left tackle but he has been solid playing the guard spot.

Elflein played center during his first two seasons — he underwent ankle and shoulder surgery after his rookie year — before being moved to left guard last year. He was shifted to right guard to open this season as Dakota Dozier took over on the left side. Elflein’s injury in practice landed him on IR with a return date in late October. He had returned to practice and a failure to put him on the active roster before this weekend would have ended his season.

Elflein’s presence on the roster could have offered depth at guard but the Vikings decided to move on.

The Vikings replaced Elflein on the roster by activating long snapper Austin Cutting from the COVID-19 reserve list.