One Vikings Roster Spot Could Change — Real Fast

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Tuesday., July 25th, 2023. The Vikings won the NFC North in Kevin O'Connell's first year, thanks to a 13-4 record. O'Connell's is the league's second-youngest coach as of 2023.

The Minnesota Vikings released their first depth chart of the 2023 season on Monday afternoon, noting a handful of surprises.

One Vikings Roster Spot Could Change — Real Fast

For example, Akayleb Evans was listed as the ‘other starting cornerback,’ a roster spot that confounded Vikings fans for about six months. Camryn Bynum, not Lewis Cine, was listed as the starting free safety. Jordan Addison checked in as a WR4, at least for now. And offensive linemen Blake Brandel and Josh Sokol are apparently now offensive guards, not tackles or centers.

Another interesting factoid dribbled from the depth chart release — Kene Nwangwu at RB2.

Roster Spot Could Change
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

The team’s dynamic and faster-than-a-gazelle kick returner has evidently climbed to the primary backup RB job behind Alexander Mattison. After Nwangwu, Ty Chandler, DeWayne McBride, and Abram Smith fill out the depth chart.

And while Nwangwu is flagged as the RB2 to start the preseason, head coach Kevin O’Connell didn’t sound too firm — at all — on the finality of his initial placement.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Connell told reporters Monday, “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.”

The Vikings travel to Seattle for a preseason date with the Seahawks Thursday night, and roster battles will really heat up in those three hours.

ESPN Names RB2
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

“Ty has been really solid in running the football and showing those instincts that we saw last year in the preseason that we’re excited about. And he continues to grow from an understanding of protection. ‘What are my rules on this play pass protection versus that it’s third down against this defense?’ And there’s a lot of stuff going on. It’s been fun to see him stressed,” O’Connell continued.

Chandler arrived to the Vikings from the 2022 NFL Draft and was the fashionable pick by most Vikings fans over the last few months to eventually win the RB2 job.

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.”

The takeaway regarding O’Connell’s feelings about RB2 or any roster spot was this, “I can tell you that [based on that] sheet of paper, we’re not making any decisions at this point.”

Naming it a ‘sheet of paper’ weakens the legitimacy and suggests roster battles will remain fluid.

So, while Nwangwu received an unexpected bump up the depth chart, it could quite easily be short-lived.


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 OverTheCap.com.

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