RB Reinforcements Arrive for Vikings

Gaskin Is an Interesting
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports.

Injuries have tried to slow down Minnesota’s emergence as a playoff threat. Justin Jefferson has missed five straight games, Kirk Cousins missed a couple of games and won’t return in 2023, Christian Darrisaw and K.J. Osborn were banged up, and running backs Cam Akers and Alexander Mattison got hurt.

RB Reinforcements Arrive for Vikings

RB Reinforcements Arrive
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports.

Akers is out for the season with his second ruptured Achilles tendon. This time, it’s the other leg. He was acquired earlier in the season via trade to spell starter Mattison. The veteran was re-signed in the offseason to become the new top guy on the depth chart without Dalvin Cook in the building. That hasn’t worked, as the running game is the team’s biggest weakness.

Mattison suffered a concussion on Sunday and is expected to miss one game, so general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had to take action and add someone to the already thin running back group. The only other runners on the team are Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu on the 53-man roster and DeWayne McBride on the practice squad.

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There aren’t any premier backs available this late in the season, and scheme familiarity and perhaps team familiarity are preferred characteristics. The Vikings made the logical choice and re-signed Myles Gaskin, a player they had on their team earlier in the season. He was signed after he failed to make Miami’s roster. Of course, Minnesota needed some veteran depth behind Mattison and the young guys, especially before Akers arrived.

Adam Schefter reported on X: “Back to Minnesota: The Vikings are signing running back Myles Gaskin to their practice squad after the Rams signed him away from Minnesota, per source.”

The Vikings moved him between the roster and practice squad a couple of times, primarily to open roster spots and to save some money. When the Rams suffered multiple injuries to running backs, Sean McVay poached Gaskin from the practice squad before releasing him roughly three weeks later.

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Gaskin appeared in two games in 2023, one with the Vikings and one with the Rams. He didn’t get a single snap on offense in either of those opportunities. However, he has plenty of experience in the NFL, starting 17 of 38 games in Miami.

The former Washington Huskie rushed 361 times for 1,355 yards in his four-year stint in Florida and rushed for seven touchdowns. He also caught 101 passes for 701 yards, providing a solid pass-cathing ability from the backfield.

He will now be placed on the practice squad and perhaps elevated on Sunday in the matchup with the Denver Broncos. Chandler will presumably handle the starting role if Mattison can’t go. Players usually need a couple of weeks to get out of concussion protocol.

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Chandler rushed 15 times for 45 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. A holding flag also cost him another big touchdown run, and the numbers are deflated because of obvious late-game runs to take some time off the clock. He has shown the necessary burst to be an effective runner, and his speed could open up some holes. Head coach Kevin O’Connell claimed he was excited to see his sophomore get some more chances going forward after Akers’ injury, but he will take on a larger workload than expected.

Gaskin is the logical choice if running back depth is needed, as he is familiar with the offense. The 26-year-old will not have a huge rule, but he might get his first carries of the season.

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