Vikings Focused on Speed Galore with 2 Roster Moves

Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; A detail view of the cleats of Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu (26) prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings were busy this week per roster movement, sending wide receiver Justin Jefferson and quarterback Nick Mullens to injured reserve.

Both men will miss at least four games.

Vikings Focused on Speed Galore with 2 Roster Moves

But those moves created some roster space, and two Minnesota transactions this week emphasized speed. The Vikings designated Kene Nwangwu to return from IR and signed wide receiver + special teams savant Dan Chisena to the practice squad.

Kene Nwangwu

The team’s dynamic kick returner is nearing a return, and Vikings fans will learn Sunday morning if Nwangwu is activated for Sunday’s tryst with the Chicago Bears.

Vikings Focused on Speed
Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu (26) in action against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

One of the fastest players in the sport, Nwangwu could give the Vikings a jolt in a season when all existing jolts have been unfavorable — mostly fumbles and interceptions. When Minnesota unveiled an initial preseason depth chart in August, Nwangwu was listed as the RB2 behind Mattison, piquing fans’ interest because he could’ve been on tap for more touches in the team’s offense.

The man is fast as hell, though, and Minnesota will take any perks it can get with a 1-4 record and IR assignment from the team’s best player. Vikings faithful longed for Nwangwu’s inclusion in the team’s offense last year — because of his speed — but the wish was not granted. The Iowa State alumnus touched the ball 11 times on offense for 35 yards from scrimmage, not exactly a productive resume as a second-year speedster.

Roster Spot Could Change
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu (26) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota scooped Nwangwu out of the 4th Round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he’s returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in two years. His kick return touchdown on Thanksgiving night versus the New England Patriots last year was a game-saver for Minnesota. The Vikings forced no turnovers against Bill Belichick’s team, curiously couldn’t stop quarterback Mac Jones — he looked like Tom Brady for a night — leaving Nwangwu’s heroics as the hinge that swung the game.

The Vikings have about two and a half weeks to formally add Nwangwu to the active roster. After that, we shall if he regains his kick returning job — probably so — and gets touches on offense.

Dan Chisena

Chisena participated in 27 Vikings games from 2020 to 2022, with 496 snaps on special teams and 11 on offense. He was showcased much more frequently with the Mike Zimmer brand of Vikings on special teams but was retained via practice squad in 2022 when the team shaved the roster to 53 players.

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Dan Chisena (85) makes a reception against Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Chris Jones (41) during a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

Last year, with Kevin O’Connell in charge, Chisena’s special teams role was clearly diminished, seeing action on just 24 plays early in the season in games against the Chicago Bears and Washington Commanders. After that activation from the practice squad, that was it for Chisena on the active roster.

The former Nittany Lion is known for speed, speed, and more speed, logging a 4.32 forty-yard dash during the buildup to the 2020 NFL Draft. He was teammates with Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki, Micah Parsons, and Miles Sanders at Penn State.

Jul 27, 2023; Latrobe, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver wide receiver Dan Chisena (85) participates in drills during training camp at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

Chisena joined the Steelers roster in January, where he remained for seven months. He was cut loose amid roster trimdowns in August, and seven weeks later, he has returned home in purple.

The speedster will live on the practice squad but could be called up for special teams duty before too long.

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).

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