Unsung WR Continues to Emerge in Vikings Offense

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Mounting injuries have meant the Minnesota Vikings have had to dig deep into the depth chart in recent weeks. Players at various positions have been required to step up, and most have delivered. Wide receiver has been one of the more affected positions. Thankfully for Minnesota, Brandon Powell continues to emerge in the Vikings offense.

Unsung WR Continues to Emerge in Vikings Offense

Last Sunday in Atlanta, the Vikings called upon unlikely heroes in their time of need. Even with Minnesota’s injury problems going into the game, you would have struggled to find anyone predicting the game-winning touchdown would come from a Joshua Dobbs pass to Powell.

Days after being traded to Minnesota, Dobbs was thrust into action, replacing rookie Jaren Hall, who suffered a concussion in the first half. Powell’s role increased when K.J. Osborn suffered the same fate in the second quarter.

Unsung WR Continues
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Powell’s game-winning six-yard touchdown catch with 22 seconds remaining against the Falcons was only the third touchdown catch of his five-year career. The other two came when he was with the Falcons in 2020. Powell battled through leg cramps in Atlanta but was sharp when he needed to be, providing his team with the season’s most improbable victories. The wide receiver enjoyed the best career moment so far with his family in attendance, providing 13 tickets for family members to make the trip up from his native Florida. What a day it was for the Powell family!

An Even Larger Role on Offense Beckons

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

Powell has primarily been used as a punt returner during his career, the role he was brought in for when he signed with Minnesota in March. Following Justin Jefferson’s injury in Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Powell has enjoyed a steady role in the Vikings offense. An even larger role beckons for Powell, particularly in this week’s game with the Saints. Jefferson has been designated to return from IR, but his availability for this week’s game still seems a longshot.

Osborn was a non-participant on Wednesday’s injury report as he is still on concussion protocol. It was a nasty hit suffered by Osborn in Sunday’s game, and I would be surprised if he isn’t at least sitting this week out. Powell could be set to be the Vikings WR2 at least for one week. Jalen Nailor looks set to boost the WR ranks after being out injured since Week 2. He would add a speedy deep threat to the Vikings passing attack, but there should still be plenty of opportunity for Powell.

Proving to Be A Shrewd Signing

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

Powell arrived from the LA Rams as an unheralded free agent with no guarantee of making the final roster. He signed a 1-year contract worth $1,232,500, and it’s fair to say he’s performing to a standard that warrants a longer stay. Kevin O’Connell knew him from his time in LA. However, Powell only played in six games during the Rams Super Bowl-winning season in 2021 — only as a punt and kickoff returner. 

This year in Minnesota, Powell is returning punts to an acceptable standard but is now making plays on offense consistently week after week. He has 15 catches for 157 receiving yards, a touchdown, and 4 rushes for 15 yards. With Cam Akers out for the season with an Achilles injury, the Vikings are also short in RB depth – another area Powell could get more opportunity.

For a player who arrived in Minnesota with little expectation and for relatively little money, Powell has proved to be an excellent signing for the Vikings.