New Blood on the Way for Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings will have to defy history if they want to circumvent an 0-3 start to the 2023 regular season.
Just six teams in NFL history have later reached the playoffs after an 0-3 start, and no 0-3 squad has ever visited a Super Bowl.
New Blood on the Way for Vikings
There’s a wee bit of remaining optimism for Minnesota, though — the quarterback is playing well, the schedule eventually becomes easier, and all games are within reach via point margin — so fans will stay positive until all hope is lost.
Meanwhile, new blood is on the way for the Vikings and could see gametime action as early as this Sunday.
A throwback to head coach Kevin O’Connell’s time in Los Angeles, the Vikings fired off a low-risk trade for Akers, a running back, last week. He just wasn’t ready in time to see the field in Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
But that can — and will — change soon, probably in five days against the Carolina Panthers. Current RB1 Alexander Mattison has compiled the good and the bad, showing promise on plays from time to time but plagued by a fumble problem that hadn’t really hindered him in the past.
Mattison nearly lost a fumble against the Chargers in Week 3 and probably should have, if not for a favorable whistle from referees. And truth be told, the moment Dalvin Cook left the Vikings, a committee approach was probably always on the way for the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah brand of Vikings.
Swinging a trade for Akers suggests he’s the guy to round out the would-be RB committee. A former 2nd-Round draft pick, Akers never really got off the ground in Los Angeles, hampered by a season-ending injury in 2021 and then a strange doghouse, at times, in the Rams organization.
The young tailback didn’t have enough time to thoroughly learn the Vikings playbook before Week 3, but with a week and a half of studious commitment, he’ll likely encounter offensive snaps against the 0-3 Panthers.
If you’re ready to see a true-blue, pun intended, Mattison alternative, Akers is your man.
Alas, after two months of flirtation, Vikings fans got their wish. Minnesota signed Risner to a one-year free-agent contract last week, and like Akers, Risner likely needed time to acclimate to the Vikings playbook.
Risner told anybody who would list on the X app that he wanted to play for the Vikings, and after seven weeks of deliberation, Minnesota finally took the plunge. The Vikings offensive line interior has struggled through three games, especially without starting center Garrett Bradbury, who appears set to return in Week 4 or 5 from a back injury.
Where Risner will fit on the team’s offensive line is unclear. Second-year right guard Ed Ingram could be benched, and Risner could slide into Ingram’s spot. Otherwise, Minnesota could move current left guard Ezra Cleveland to the right side and allow Risner to play his organic left guard position.
Risner’s deal is worth up to $4 million, so he wasn’t brought aboard to sit on the bench and watch Ingram on Sundays. Before too long, Risner will see offensive snaps; it’s just a question of where at the moment.
And perhaps — a large maybe — the Vikings iOL can excel for the first time in ages.
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).