Unsung Viking Tabbed as Offseason Standout

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While many Minnesota Vikings fans have focused on Lewis Cine’s injury recovery this offseason, a different player who plays Cine’s position has garnered under-the-radar attention.

He’s fourth-year safety Josh Metellus, a man probably on deck for a more prominent defensive role in 2023.

Unsung Viking Tabbed as Offseason Standout

Metellus performed wonderfully last year, fetching an 85.1 grade from Pro Football Focus and holding down Minnesota’s special teams operations. And if all goes according to plan for the 25-year-old, Metellus could surpass his 258 defensive snaps played in 2022.

Tabbed as Offseason
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He’ll experience a camp battle in July and August as the Vikings determine which player starts at free safety alongside Harrison Smith. For now, it’s a three-way race between the aforementioned Cine, incumbent starter Camryn Bynum, and Metellus. But the hype for Metellus has skyrocketed in the last month — enough not to be ignored.

ESPN identified a ‘standout’ player from each team this offseason, and for the Vikings, that was Metellus. Kevin Seifert of ESPN explained this week, “The most interesting part of Metellus’ spring was the clear effort the Vikings’ new defensive staff made to find him a place to play. A backup safety and special teams ace in his first three seasons, Metellus worked extensively as the slot cornerback in the Vikings’ nickel set.”

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“Harrison Smith and Cam Bynum appear set as the starting safeties, but Metellus looked comfortable at nickel, and it’s clear the Vikings hope to see him on the field regularly this fall,” Seifert added.

And it’s not just an ESPN thing. Two weeks ago, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was asked to name an ‘unsung hero’ on the team during an appearance on The Season with Peter Schrager podcast. Adofo-Mensah didn’t hesitate and named Metellus, “He’s a safety, and he’ll play some more this year, so I think you’ll see the stuff that we’ve seen. He was a special teams stalwart last year, team-captain type. I was in the team meeting room later in the season after [Brian O’Neill] got hurt, [Metellus] was given team captain.”

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“You can feel when somebody’s teammates really love them, really appreciate them, and really want to follow them into battle, and he’s one of those guys. He’s everything that the Minnesota Vikings are about, and I think people are really going to appreciate that more this season,” Adofo-Mensah concluded.

It’s a good problem to have — the 2023 Vikings might have too many startable safeties. For now, this is the group on the active roster:

S1: Harrison Smith
S2: Camryn Bynum
S3: Josh Metellus
S4: Lewis Cine
S5: Jay Ward
S6: Theo Jackson

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Metellus said at OTAs a few weeks ago, “So far, I’ve played nickel and safety, so I’ve moved around. I played in dime last year a little bit. It was already on tape that I can play those spots. Yeah, but I love football. So learning the whole defense, I was planning on doing that anyways. Now they are telling me to do it, so it is falling to what I was already planning to do. It’s just learning the defense as a whole instead of just my spot at safety.”

That versatility might just earn Metellus an enhanced role in Brian Flores’ new defense.

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.