Kevin O’Connell Identifies One Viking Who ‘Jumped Out’

Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell talks to players during training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings lost their first preseason game at the Seattle Seahawks last week, an outcome largely disregarded by the team’s fans because Minnesota went 0-3 in preseason games last year while later winning the NFC North with a 13-4 record.

Kevin O’Connell Identifies One Viking Who ‘Jumped Out’

O’Connell remained true to his philosophy by resting well-established starters, enabling reservist players to showcase their skills and vie for roster spots.

Along the way, one young Viking ‘jumped out,’ according to O’Connell — running back Ty Chandler.

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) carries the ball while being defended by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jon Rhattigan (59) after making a catch during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Connell said about Chandler after the preseason loss, “I thought Ty Chandler jumped out. Just any time he had the ball in his hands, very rarely tackled by the first defender that was in space. Catching the ball. And then picked up really where he left off as far as his ability when the lights come on to sometimes turn into a different guy.”

Chandler joined the Vikings last year via the 5th Round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the first ball-carrier draft pick of the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah era.

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) carries the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders during a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

“Now I want to see it every single day and really see him be consistent because he’s proven when it goes live and it’s real football, he’s a tough guy to bring to the ground,” O’Connell added.

Chandler fired up 70 yards from scrimmage at Seattle, a commendable figure because the Vikings offensive line performed poorly throughout most of the game. Again, almost all starters rested.

Identifies One Viking Who
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sean Mannion (14) hands off to running back Ty Chandler (32) during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The second-year RB only played in three games as a rookie, with 6 rushing attempts for 20 yards, missing most of the season with a broken thumb. He was also buried on the depth chart behind Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Kene Nwangwu. With Cook departed via free agency in 2023, Chandler could realistically snag the RB2 job heading into Week 1.

Nwangwu, the team’s primary kick returner, was listed as RB2 on the first-but-unofficial depth chart one week ago. But Chandler’s production in Seattle might eventually flip the order, as O’Connell didn’t sound too set on the RB rotation to begin with when the depth chart was released.

O’Connell told reporters about the depth chart [and RB2 particularly] on August 7th, “That would be one position that the backup spot is really fully in the competition. And because Kene had a little temporary setback, we didn’t want to make any [decisions]. I can tell you that [based on that] sheet of paper, we’re not making any decisions at this point. And really want to see those guys get a full body of work before we determine overall what that position looks like.”

Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell throws a pass during training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Connell concluded about Chandler the RB2 position on the whole, “There’s been times where he’s handled it really clean. And then there’s been other times we’ve been meeting, you know, you see [running backs coach/run game coordinator] Curtis Modkins walking right up to him after that play ends. And those are all growth moments that we hope to see. Consistency is the word with a talented player like Ty.”

Thereafter, Chandler ‘jumped out’ which cannot hurt his case for the RB2 goal.

Chandler will receive more touches this weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium when the Vikings host the Tennessee Titans for Preseason Game No. 2.

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).

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