The Vikings Player with Most to Prove in Final Preseason Game

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The Minnesota Vikings wrap up the 2023 preseason on Saturday afternoon, hosting the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium, a team most pundits consider the worst in the sport.

On head coach Kevin O’Connell’s watch, Minnesota has lost five consecutive preseason games.

The Vikings Player with Most to Prove in Final Preseason Game

And while wins and losses in the preseason do not matter, roster battles do, and one Viking has the most to prove on Saturday — rookie running back DeWayne McBride.

Most to Prove in Final
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Among a couple of other Vikings players, McBride aptly epitomizes the “roster bubble,” owning a reasonable chance to make the 53-man roster next week or join the practice squad during his maiden voyage season. It could go either way.

In the last few weeks, the Vikings have worked out veteran runners like Kareem Hunt and Mike Davis and ultimately signed lesser-known tailbacks, Abram Smith and Aaron Dykes. Notwithstanding an injury to running back Kene Nwangwu, Minnesota has proven a desire to become deeper at the position.

DeWayne McBride on First Impressions of Being a Viking & Translating College Success to the NFL.’s Tatum Everett talked with Minnesota Vikings rookie running back DeWayne McBride from the TCO Studios. The Vikings selected McBride in Round 7 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

One might wonder why would the Vikings need an Abram Smith or Aaron Dykes with McBride rearing to go as a hungry rookie? That’s precisely why McBride has much to prove on Saturday afternoon.

The UAB alumnus must swat away roster challenges from Smith and Dykes, and if he is unsuccessful, well, he’ll probably fall onto the wrong side of the roster bubble. McBride hasn’t dazzled during two preseason games, has looked somewhat slow to the naked eye, and didn’t see action until late in the second preseason game a bad omen for his roster trajectory.

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Thankfully for his sake, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has a vested interest in McBride succeeding whenever that time might arrive. He drafted McBride four months ago in Round 7, and many NFL heads believed he was a steal. So far, that prognosis seems false.

For context, this is the Vikings RB room heading into the last preseason contest:

RB1: Alexander Mattison
RB2: Kene Nwangwu
RB3: Ty Chandler
RB4: DeWayne McBride
RB5: Abram Smith
RB6: Aaron Dykes

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) tosses the ball to running back DeWayne McBride (37) as they face the Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

McBride must do enough against the Cardinals to show his regular season worth. Otherwise, he’ll live on the practice squad or perhaps face an outright roster waiver. Plus, if Nwangwu’s injury lingers, McBride should have a simpler path to the active roster. Smith or Dykes grabbing the final spot would become one of the Vikings strangest summer developments, especially if McBride is on the outside looking in.

The 22-year-old played in 31 games for UAB, tabulating marvelous numbers with 3,523 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns. His career average per run was 7.3 yards, an astounding figure. 

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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