One Vikings Roster Battle Is Front and Center on Saturday Night

Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Brandon Powell (19) during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason games in the NFL may often seem like a finical endeavor compared to the regular season, but such games are used to determine who makes — and doesn’t make — the 53-man roster.

One Vikings Roster Battle Is Front and Center on Saturday Night

The Minnesota Vikings and 31 teams have 10 days to prune rosters from 90 men to 53, so two preseason games remain to get a look at the whole bevy of players.

And on Saturday night, the Vikings WR5 battle will be front and center as a matter of happenstance.

Battle Is Front
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Reagor (5) adjusts his pads during warmup prior to the game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota hosts the Tennessee Titans on Saturday evening at U.S. Bank Stadium, a showdown where the Vikings will face Titans QB Malik Willis for all four quarters. Rookie passer Will Levis is reportedly out nursing an injury.

For the WR5 battle, the men in bold below are suitors to monitor.

WR1: Justin Jefferson
WR2: K.J. Osborn
WR3: Jalen Nailor
WR4: Jordan Addison
WR5: Jalen Reagor
WR6: Brandon Powell
WR7: Blake Proehl
WR8: Trishton Jackson
WR9: Lucky Jackson
WR10: Thayer Thomas
WR11: N’Keal Harry
WR12: Garett Maag
WR13: Jacob Copeland

Jun 2, 2022; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams receiver Brandon Powell (19) during organized team activities at California Lutheran University. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Jefferson and Osborn are labeled ‘established starters’ and hence won’t play versus the Titans. Addison, a 1st-Round rookie, is finishing up a trip to the NFL’s concussion protocol. And Nailor is likely out while recovering from a minor injury. That leaves ample playing time for ‘the other guys.’

Reagor is likely the frontrunner to snag the WR5 job after putting together a fairly commendable training camp and downright impressive first preseason game at the Seattle Seahawks. Minnesota swung a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for Reagor last summer, so the current leadership regime has a vested interest in making Reagor click inside the Vikings offense and on special teams.

Powell, too, has performed wonderfully at times in training camp, also looking the part at Seattle nine days ago. He’s a free-agent newcomer, a carryover by head coach Kevin O’Connell from the 2021 Super Bowl-winning Los Angeles Rams.

No Ligament Damage
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Trishton Jackson (9) reacts after a reception in the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The underdogs-via-name-recognition include Trishton Jackson, Lucky Jackson, Blake Proehl, and Thayer Thomas. All are considered a longshot to snatch a roster spot, but generally speaking, stranger things have happened than one of the men pulling off the unlikely.

Too, N’Keal Harry could win the job, although most classify the former Patriot as the Vikings WR5 in 2023 a ‘sleeper’ theory. New England spent 1st-Round draft capital on Harry four years ago, and he didn’t quite pan out on Bill Belichick’s watch. However, like Reagor and Powell, Harry has shined at points in the last couple of weeks.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver N’Keal Harry addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center during 2023 Training Camp. Harry joined the Vikings in August of 2023 and previously played for the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears. Harry joined the NFL in Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Vikings are expected to split quarterbacking duty between veteran QB2 Nick Mullens and rookie QB3 Jaren Hall Saturday night — the same combo from the first preseason game at Lumen Field.

Minnesota could also keep six WRs en route to the regular season roster. The number was five last year.

Tennessee is favored by 2.5 points to win the game (although preseason gambling odds are a bit strange).

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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