Vikings Clear Roster Spot, Place 1 Player on IR

Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; A Minnesota Vikings helmet sits on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings trimmed the roster to 53 players on Tuesday to stay under the roster limit. On Wednesday, however, the team added a couple of new players. Offensive tackle David Quessenberry will be a backup for the two starters Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw and running back Myles Gaskin provides veteran depth behind Alexander Mattison.

Vikings Clear Roster Spot, Place 1 Player on IR

Vikings Clear Roster Spot, Place 1 Player on IR
Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu (26) in action against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings had to make two corresponding moves to open the necessary roster spots for the additions and they waived wideout Jalen Reagor, a player who was rumored to be a trade candidate but no deal was reached. A second spot was unlocked by placing running back Kene Nwangwu on injured reserve, as the Vikings announced.

Nwanwgu missed the majority of training camp with an undisclosed injury and will now miss the first four games. He is eligible to come off IR for the Week 5 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs after missing the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Week 2 in Philadelphia against the Eagles, the Week 3 meeting at home facing the Los Angeles Chargers, and Week 4 in Carolina against the Panthers.

The Vikings had to wait until Wednesday to put him on IR because placing a player on IR before the deadline on Wednesday evening forces that player to miss the entire season.

Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu (not shown) returns a kick for a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Nwnagwu has been arguably the best kick returner in the NFL since he joined the Vikings in the 2021 draft. The fourth-rounder is nominally a running back but has made barely an impact that way.

He is leading the NFL with three kick return touchdowns throughout his NFL career and ranks third in average yards per kick return in the same span. On offense, meanwhile, Nwnagwu had close to no impact with only 22 carries in the two seasons combined for 75 yards and six catches for 30 yards.

The Vikings have replaced him on the offensive side of the ball by signing Gaskin, an experienced running back in the NFL with the ability to help the team in the running and the passing game. Now 26 years old, the newest Viking rushed for 1,355 yards and seven touchdowns in four seasons with the Dolphins and showed promising receiving skills, adding 101 catches for 701 yards and six more scores.

Aug 21, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin (37) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports.

Gaskin is not a starting-caliber running back but a decent backup. He was cut from the Dolphins because of a logjam created by the organization that drafted Devon Achane in the third round and added Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson from the San Francisco 49ers.

Minnesota now employs four running backs on the active roster with starter Alexander Mattison, fullback C.J. Ham, and backups Ty Chandler, and Gaskin. It remains to be seen how the purple team splits the touches. Chandler looked promising in back-to-back preseason while Gaskin has more experience as a former two-year starter.

Chart before Final Preseason
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) carries the ball while being defended by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jon Rhattigan (59) after making a catch during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings also have rookie DeWayne McBride stashed on the practice squad. He was drafted in the seventh round but didn’t make the 53-man roster. In the unfortunate event that one of the trio of runners had to miss a game, it would likely indicate the elevation of McBride to the gameday roster, something NFL teams can do three times in a season with each practice squad player.

Another interesting wrinkle that needs to be sorted out is the kick-returner job, the main reason why Nwnagwu is on the team. On the official Vikings depth chart, Chandler is listed as Nwangwu’s backup, followed by punt returner Brandon Powell. Chandler returned 37 kicks in college and scored once.

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