2 Vikings Eligible to Return from IR This Week

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 Minnesota Vikings have visions of back-to-back wins for the first time since Christmas Eve, taking on the world-champion Kansas City Chiefs this weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium after toppling the Carolina Panthers in Week 4.

2 Vikings Eligible to Return from IR This Week

Minnesota is a five-point home underdog to take down the Chiefs. In fact, if the point spread holds at five, it will be the Vikings largest status as a home underdog in the history of U.S. Bank Stadium (when Minnesota isn’t resting starters in an end-of-season game).

Meanwhile, with the season reaching its quarter point, a couple of Vikings are eligible to return this week.

Chris Reed (OG)

This reservist offensive lineman has lived on the shelf for quite some time. Reed hit the non-football-injury list in July and has lived there since.

Eligible to Return
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Chris Reed (62) performs a drill during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Now, with a little luck, Reed can return after Minnesota’s first four games of 2023. A player would have to be released (and perhaps assigned to the practice squad thereafter) to make room for Reed, but Vikings fans would welcome any and all offensive line depth.

The 31-year-old played in seven games last year, starting one, the regular season finale at the Chicago Bears. He replaced Garrett Bradbury and Austin Schlottmann at center in a Week 17 contest at the Green Bay Packers with a performance he’d assuredly like to forget. But after one week’s worth of practice and reps at center — he’s a guard by trade — Reed played commendably at Soldier Field to wrap up the 2022 regular season.

Indianapolis Colts guard Chris Reed (62) (right) warms up before the team’s game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Indianapolis Colts At Arizona Cardinals. © Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Reed took a paycut to remain with the Vikings in March and could now hit the field before too long. The Minnesota State alumnus has experience playing left guard, right guard, and center. So far in his career, Reed has registered decent grades from Pro Football Focus, especially since 2019:

  • 2016 = 53.5
  • 2017 = 50.8
  • 2018 = 57.3
  • 2019 = 70.3
  • 2020 = 63.0
  • 2021 = 67.2
  • 2022 = 54.3

The Vikings also added Dalton Risner to the roster two weeks ago, who plays Reed’s organic position.

Kene Nwangwu (RB)

Like Reed, the Vikings primary kick returner is eligible to return. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert tweeted Monday, “With four games in the books, Vikings RB/KR Kene Nwangwu (PUP) and OL Chris Reed (NFI) are eligible to return to practice. But coach Kevin O’Connell said he has not yet had those conversations with the team’s medical staff nor GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.”

Roster Spot Could Change
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu (26) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Nwangwu hit injured reserve near the end of August with a back injury, and at the time, the team was tight-lipped about his eventual return. The NFL also tweaked kick returning rules this year, meaning Nwangwu’s role isn’t as vital, as teams can opt for a fair catch on every kick return if they choose.

When he’s healthy, though, Nwangwu is incredibly explosive, taking 3 kick returns to the house for touchdowns in his first two seasons. He hit paydirt on a kick return last Thanksgiving against the New England Patriots, the smoking gun that later led Minnesota to victory.

Is Kene
Nov 28, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu (26) carries the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota has plenty of running backs, including Alexander Mattison, Cam Akers, and Ty Chandler, plus Myles Gaskin and DeWayne McBride on the practice squad. Nwangwu’s chances of experiencing RB snaps are probably low, but he is a dynamic special teams performer.

The Vikings should update the injury statuses for Reed and Nwangwu soon.

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.