Vikings WR Room Shrinks

Dec 10, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; A Minnesota Vikings helmet lays on the field prior to the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings traded for Los Angeles Rams playmaker Cam Akers on Wednesday evening, bolstering the running back room with 15 games to go in the regular season.

Akers passed a physical Thursday and joined the active roster, which meant one player had to depart or hit injured reserve.

Vikings WR Room Shrinks

The odd man out was wide receiver Jalen Nailor, who hit injured reserve with a hamstring injury and is now out for at least four weeks.

Vikings WR Room
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) celebrates after making a stop against the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Nailor, 24, had hardly played on offense this season, tallying just one snap and zero targets through the air. Instead, Minnesota used Nailor on special teams during the first two games, to the tune of 35 plays.

For now, the club did not promote a wide receiver from the practice squad to the 53-man roster but has N’Keal Harry, Lucky Jackson, Trishton Jackson, and Thayer Thomas available when ready.

WR Returns
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell (left) and wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) before an NFL International Series game against the New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

A fan favorite because of speed and upside, Nailor was supposed to encounter a breakout season in Year Two and still might, depending on the injury recovery. At the moment, though, he’ll miss at least a month with eyes on a Week 7 return at the earliest.

Nailor is the team’s WR4 behind Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, and rookie Jordan Addison. That job now presumably belongs to Brandon Powell, also the punt returner, for the next four games. Powell suffered a regrettable fumble in Week 2 at the Philadelphia Eagles.

At Michigan State in 2021, Nailor tallied 695 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Nicknamed Speedy, the young playmaker ran a 4.5 forty-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Combine and placed in the Top 10 among receivers in several drills at the event. On any given Sunday, he’s one of the fastest players on the Vikings roster, if not the fastest, with Kene Nwangwu on injured reserve.

Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Chris Olave (left) and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor (right) pose after exchanging jerseys during an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Saints 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Nailor tallied 9 receptions for 179 yards and a touchdown in his rookie campaign, along with some flashy clips to whet fans’ appetites for the offseason. Incidentally, Nailor did most of his damage in “garbage time” and will hope to repeat the production  and then some  in the middle of games upon his return.

In that limited sample, Nailor showed the gumption to thrive at the NFL level and will hope to get back on track toward the midseason.

Plops Vikings Offseason
Oct 3, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A Minnesota Vikings fan cheers on the team against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports.

With the Nailor on the shelf for Sunday and beyond, Vikings fans will continue to monitor the injury statuses of Christian Darrisaw, Marcus Davenport, and Garrett Bradbury for the Week 3 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Vikings players Oli Udoh (OT), Kene Nwangwu (RB), William Kwenkeu (ILB), and James Lynch (DL) are also on injured reserve.

These are the Vikings active WRs with Nailor out indefinitely:

  • Justin Jefferson
  • K.J. Osborn
  • Jordan Addison
  • Brandon Powell

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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