4 Vikings Players Who Could Be Benched before Too Long

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; A Minnesota Vikings fans looks on before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have 15 games left on the 2023 itinerary, losing the first two matchups to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles, a disappointing opening after a 13-4 record in 2022.

4 Vikings Players Who Could Be Benched before Too Long

The Los Angeles Chargers travel to Minnesota for a date with the Vikings in Week 3, a contest teetering on do or die for Kevin O’Connell’s team.

And with two games completed, these four players could be benched or demoted in the coming weeks. They’re ranked in ascending order of likelihood (No. 1 = most likely to be benched or demoted).

4. Alexander Mattison (RB)

Be Benched
Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) hands the ball off to running back Alexander Mattison (2) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

In fairness to Mattison, he hasn’t really been allowed much opportunity to get in a groove. The Vikings are running the football at a historically low rate, just 26 times in the two games. In fact, that’s the third-fewest rushing attempts in NFL history for a team in its first two games of a season.

But when Mattison took a carry on Thursday night, he fumbled, and that helped nothing.

The 25-year-old will get going soon, especially because Minnesota won’t face the Buccaneers and Eagles interior defensive lines every week.

However, if he doesn’t begin contributing on a per-carry basis — when he’s actually given a shot — the Vikings coaching staff could provide RB2 Ty Chandler more snaps.

3. Dean Lowry (DL)

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White (1) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) and defensive end Dean Lowry (94) and linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) as guard Luke Goedeke (67) attempts to block during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Lowry was always a steady defender for the Green Bay Packers, but through two games of his Vikings career, he’s produced a rather low 38.3 Pro Football Focus grade. He doesn’t appear to be an obvious struggle merchant in real-time, but something is awry per PFF.

The lineman has a long history of consistency, so he should improve in the next few games. If he does not, though, Minnesota could turn to more snaps for rookie Jaquelin Roy, veteran Khyiris Tonga, or sign a free agent like Ndamukong Suh.

2. Ed Ingram (RG)

PurplePTSD: Old Viking to Dolphins, Ed Ingram Momentum, MIN-LV Winners and Losers
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram (67) defends against Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Vernon Butler (94) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Ed Ingram has struggled in his second year, to the tune of a 49.0 PFF grade. And because Minnesota did not add free agent Dalton Risner to the roster late in the summer — Risner has expressed very clear interest in playing for the Vikings on social media — folks in Eagan apparently believe Ingram will turn it around before too long.

He somehow caused a fumble involving his own quarterback in Week 1 and then struggled with the Eagles defensive line in Week 2. When Chris Reed returns from the NFI List, he could get action at right guard if Ingram’s troubles persist. Blake Brandel is also available on the depth chart.

1. K.J. Osborn (WR)

The Vikings 2022 Offense by the Numbers: After Week 12
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) stands on the field during warmup prior to the game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

A few drops plagued Osborn in Week 2, and his teammate Jordan Addison has balled out without drops. Osborn is listed on the Vikings depth chart as WR2, but Addison will probably steal that title — if he hasn’t already.

Thankfully for his sake, Osborn always finds a way to come up clutch in a couple of Vikings games per season, so he’ll likely change the narrative in the coming weeks. However, Addison very much looks more like the WR2 than Osborn out of the gate.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.