Promising Sophomore Earns Glowing Praise

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Multiple Minnesota Vikings have had breakout campaigns in 2023. Of course, Joshua Dobbs plays at a level that will skyrocket his free agency market from that of a backup to someone who will get starting opportunities. Safety Josh Metellus has been a remarkable Swiss army knife, D.J. Wonnum has totally refined his game, and Ed Ingram has become a solid starter.

Promising Sophomore Earns Glowing Praise

Promising Sophomore Earns Glowing Praise
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Another guy finally earned some opportunities in Week 9 of his second NFL season. Running back Ty Chandler received 15 carries on Sunday, one more than in the one-and-a-half seasons prior to that combined. In addition to his role as a backup on offense, he has jumped in as the team’s kick returner in the absence of Kene Nwangwu. His special team coordinator, Matt Daniels, applauded the speedster.

I think the biggest thing is he’s an explosive guy, he’s got good first-step quickness. It’s funny, I mentioned to the guys on Saturday night, that every time Ty Chandler touches the ball, something positive happens, and surely enough on Sunday, that continued to be the story for him. Excited that he was able to get his first touchdown but I would assume that his role is going to continue to expand within the offense. What a great opportunity that he has. And Ty is just flat-out a football player.

He gets it, he understands it. He understands the scheme, he has great vision, he’s got great first-step explosion, he’s a tackle breaker that is always falling forward, and he’s got great contact balance. He’s everything you look for in a running back and most importantly he’s just a great human being and a great overall teammate. I’m excited about the role that he’s taken on and you know, he’s got to hold on to his special teams role as well, so make sure he’s got a good lactate threshold.

Matt Daniels about RB Ty Chandler
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In his first major action from scrimmage, he gained 45 yards on the ground, scoring once on a direct snap, an excellent play design by Kevin O’Connell. Another big touchdown run was called back because of a Brian O’Neill holding penalty.

Cam Akers is on IR with a torn Achilles tendon, and Alexander Mattison is in concussion protocol. Because of those absences, Chandler should be expected to enter the game in Denver as the team’s top running back. The other options are veteran Myles Gaskin, kick return specialist Nwangwu, and rookie DeWayne McBride. Neither of those guys has shown to be a better overall running back than Chandler.

Chandler was a 2022 fifth-round selection out of North Carolina. He started his college career in a committee at Tennessee, and after four seasons, he transferred to UNC to finally be the lead back, rushing for 1,092 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns on the ground. In addition to that, Chandler is a decent receiver.

Did We See a Change
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In the NFL, Chandler was stuck behind Dalvin Cook and Mattison in his rookie campaign while also suffering a thumb injury that kept him out of the lineup for the majority of the season. Akers’ addition hurt his role in 2023 despite promising preseason performances in back-to-back years.

Barring a Mattison surprise comeback from the concussion protocol in the next few days, it will be Chandler’s show on Sunday with the opportunity to earn more touches going forward and a chance to revive a horrendous rushing offense. His explosiveness is the biggest selling point. He needs to be more consistent, show something in pass protection, and continue showcasing his athleticism.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt