5 Running Back Options For Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings have been snakebitten by injuries in the 2023 season. Most folks talk about the absences of Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson, but another bad break for the Vikes is the latest injury to Cam Akers. The struggling rushing attack has been a problem, and his season-ending injury hurts the outlook even more.
5 Running Back Options For Vikings
Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, and Kene Nwanwgu are the only running backs on the 53-man roster. Kick return ace Nwangwu has been dealing with injuries all year. He has only played one game this season and missed the last two. Chandler showed some flashes but didn’t get many opportunities, perhaps indicating that the coaches don’t trust him. Nevertheless, the Vikings need another active body on gameday. Here are five options.
1. J.D. McKissic
In addition to starter Mattison, the Vikings could add a receiving threat to the backfield, and that has always been J.D. McKissic’s specialty. He’s 30 years old and most likely not as good as he once was. However, McKissic could still function as a change-of-pace back and receiving option. Just last year, he caught 27 passes in only eight games before a neck injury ended his season.
In 70 career games, the receiving back rushed for only 1,074 yards, but he made 220 grabs for 1,674 yards, scoring a total of 11 touchdowns. Kevin O’Connell likes to use a short passing game instead of running the ball, so the veteran could be a decent fit.
2. Myles Gaskin
Gaskin, 26, signed with the Vikings after training camp as a depth option. He bounced around between the 53-man roster and the practice squad for a while and appeared in one game, the Week 2 contest against the Eagles, but didn’t log a snap on offense.
In October, the Los Angeles Rams signed him off the practice squad when multiple running backs got hurt. He was waived on Tuesday and is now available for a reunion. His knowledge of the playbook is a large reason why it makes sense to explore the option.
Throughout his five-year career, Gaskin has started 17 of 40 contests, rushed for 1,355 yards, and recorded 701 receiving yards.
3. Aaron Dykes
Surely the most unknown name on the list, Dykes was brought in halfway through training camp, and he played in a couple of preseason games, gaining a total of 55 yards from scrimmage. He didn’t make the roster but is available and looking for work. Similar to Gaskin, Dykes is familiar with the Vikings.
The undrafted rookie played college football at Richmond and totaled over 2,700 yards and 24 touchdowns from scrimmage. While he is certainly not a threat to run away with the starting job, he looked like a decent depth running back with the ability to run and catch in the preseason.
4. James Robinson
Another veteran running back, James Robinson, took the league by storm in his rookie season in 2020. He was an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State with subpar measurements at the combine. Still, it didn’t matter in his rookie season when he immediately won the starting gig and rushed for 1,070 yards in only 14 games.
His role slightly declined in 2021, and he lost his job in 2022 to Travis Etienne. Following Breece Hall’s ACL tear, the Jets traded a late-round pick for Robinson, but he only rushed for 85 yards in New York. Robinson had some short stints with the Patriots and Giants in the offseason, and the Packers just released him from their practice squad after a couple of weeks.
If he has something left in the tank, it is worth exploring.
5. DeWayne McBride
The seventh-round draft pick is currently stashed on Minnesota’s practice squad after failing to make the 53-man roster. He was a star in college at UAB but disappointed in the preseason but still rushed for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Like Gaskin and Dykes, McBride knows the offense and is already in the building. No roster move would be required. He just needs to be elevated on gameday. The Vikings liked him enough to invest a draft pick and keep him around. Now is the time to give him some reps.
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Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt