Young Vikings Will Have to Step Up in Week 10

Made a Statement
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On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings managed to defeat the Atlanta Falcons without any help from big names like Kirk Cousins, Christian Darrisaw, or Justin Jefferson.

The Vikings also endured more injuries on offense to players such as Jaren Hall, K.J. Osborn, and Cam Akers. Akers’ injury is the most notable as he suffered the second Achilles tear of his four-year NFL career.

Without Akers in the lineup, Minnesota is going to need another running back to take the load off Alexander Mattison, and according to OC Wes Phillips, those players will be young Vikings RBs Ty Chandler. and Kene Nwangwu.

Young Vikings Will Have to Step Up in Week 10

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Phillips was asked on Tuesday about the Vikings running back situation heading into Week 10, and he responded with the following, “I think just naturally you’re gonna see more Ty Chandler. Kene has been a guy who was up for a game and has made plays for us both in the return game and then in the run game in the past, so we’ve got some options there and certainly feel good about those guys.”

Chandler was selected in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft after a strong collegiate career split between Tennessee and North Carolina. Throughout his five years in the two programs, he totaled 603 carries for 3138 yards and 26 TDs while also adding 73 receptions for 681 yards and 4 TDs in the passing game.

However, the young RB has not had nearly the same sort of workload during his career with the Vikings. During his rookie season, he had just 6 touches for 20 yards, and now in 2023, he has 13 touches for 85 yards.

Chart before Final Preseason
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Meanwhile, it’s been a similar story for Nwangwu. After being a fourth-round selection in 2021, he has served as the main kick returner for the Vikings over the past few years, but he has just 22 carries for 75 yards over his first 2.5 seasons in the league.

Injuries have gotten the better Nwangwu this year, unfortunately, which has limited him to just one game so far this season. As a result, he has not played a single snap with the offense yet this season. He began the year on IR because of a back injury, and after being activated for Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers, he has not played in either of the past two games.

Phillips’ comments seem to suggest that he is on track towards getting back on the field, so even if Nwangwu doesn’t get much run with the offense, his value in the return game will be fabulous for the Vikings. He has returned 55 kicks for 1540 yards and 3 TDs to begin his career and was named a second-team All-Pro at the kick returner position during 2022.

Young Vikings
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We also cannot forget about 2023 seventh-round pick DeWayne McBride, who remains on the practice squad. He had a stellar collegiate career at UAB where he put together over 1700 rushing yards and 19 rushing TDs during the 2022 season.

Regardless, without Akers in the lineup, the Vikings will need one if not all of these young backs to step up and take on a larger role in the offense. Perhaps they could also turn to the free agency market seeing as Myles Gaskin was waived by the Rams on Tuesday.

With no moves being made yet, though, and game day approaching fast, the Vikings seem content with what they have in the backfield going into their Week 10 matchup against the Saints. Hopefully, the young RBs are able to finally take hold of a role in the Vikings offense.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.