The Vikings 4 ‘Chip on Shoulder’ Players This Summer

Sep 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) celebrates during the fourth quarter against Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are about to undergo a 3.5-month process of reducing the current 90-man roster to 53 humans.

The Vikings 4 ‘Chip on Shoulder’ Players This Summer

Forty-one percent of the roster will become unemployed on August 29th, at least initially. Some of the 41% will join the team’s practice squad.

And with summer right around the bend, these are the four chip-on-shoulder players with something to prove. They’re ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = biggest chip).

4. Khyiris Tonga (DT)

Vikings Keep Free Agent Defender in the Building
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears running back Khalil Herbert (24) runs against the Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga (95) during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports.

Tonga can fling a shoulder chip onto his sizable frame for one reason — he must prove to himself, coaches, and teammates that 2022 wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan season.

The BYU alumnus — yes, a college teammate of Jaren Hall — ranked as the league’s 13th-best interior defensive lineman per Pro Football Focus last year, but he only played 276 snaps. He could show up to his second season in purple and maintain the defensive supremacy, or he could return to earth. We shall see.

No matter what happens, though, earning and keeping a nose tackle job is on his radar. Dalvin Tomlinson doesn’t work here anymore.

3. Greg Joseph (K)

chip on shoulder
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) celebrates the win after the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

This chip-on-shoulder persona could be moot if rookie kicker Jack Podlesny doesn’t make it to training camp. Last year, the Vikings signed an undrafted kicker named Gabe Brkic, and he never made it to July.

But if Podlesny, a Georgia Bulldog, is any good, Joseph will have to look over his shoulder this summer — with the chip there and all. Joseph drilled five game-winning field goals in 2022 — yes, that statistic is accurate — but struggled with mundane tasks like extra points and non-game-winning field goals.

About nine months ago, Minnesota chose rookie punter Ryan Wright over veteran Jordan Berry, a move that caused head scratches at the time. We’ve seen the team do it. The Vikings could opt for Podlesny over Joseph, so Joseph must stave off the youngster.

2. Jalen Reagor (WR)

Vikings 2022 Trade
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Reagor (5) celebrates a catch against the New York Jets during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

If you’re just now reacclimating dealings of Vikings football in 2023, know that Jalen Reagor could be waived late this summer. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed Brandon Powell in March, a Reagor cookie-cutter but with less draft stock attached to his resume.

Reagor didn’t set the Vikings offense ablaze in 2022, or when he did, it was for the wrong reasons, running bad routes and causing interceptions in the Vikings-Colts now-history-laden game.

His punt returning was also meh. Of all 31 NFLers who returned 15+ punts in 2022, Reagor’s 6.2 yards per return ranked 31st in the league

The former 1st-Rounder must fight to keep a WR4 job and not allow Powell to steal his lunch money.

1. K.J. Osborn (WR)

K.J. Osborn Does It Again
Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) catches a touchdown pass against the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, no Vikings player should have a larger shoulder chip than Osborn. The man was likely flying high after Adam Thielen joined the Carolina Panthers, firmly on deck for WR2 duties for the first time in his career.

But then Minnesota drafted Jordan Addison in Round 1 last month, seeming to plant Osborn back in a familiar role — WR3.

Meanwhile, Osborn will hit free agency next March and can command a spicy contract from the Vikings or a different suitor. Whether he’s the WR2 or WR3, Osborn has everything to play for and then some in 2023.

It all starts with showing Addison who’s boss at training camp.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by