Vikings Sign New RB and End Kicking Battle

Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) during training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings entered their training camp with some significant position battles. Of course, a lot of folks had their eyes on the cornerback competition with Byron Murphy as the only ensured starter and two open spots, one on the outside, and one in the slot. Akayleb Evans ran away with the CB2 spot, and rookie Mekhi Blackmon with the one in nickel defenses.

Vikings Sign New RB and End Kicking Battle

The kicker position was another one. There are only 32 of those available in the NFL and many teams regularly look for a new one. The Vikings historically had some bad luck in that regard, moving on from Daniel Carlson was the latest evidence. He turned into an elite kicker for the Las Vegas Raiders.

kicking battle
Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs kicker Jack Podlesny (96) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Greg Joseph was the 2022 kicker after beating out Gabe Brkic in the competition for the spot last season and this time, the Vikings once again, sent him another competitor when they signed Jack Podlesny, a back-to-back national champion at Georgia.

On Thursday, the Vikings ended the matchup when they waived Podlesny to make room for running back Aaron Dykes. The rookie didn’t receive the opportunity to kick in a preseason game as Joseph handled those duties against the Seattle Seahawks. Special teams coordinator Matt Daniels claimed that Podelsny would get his chance against the Titans but that turned out to be a moot point.

a new viking hero
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) celebrates his game-winning field goal after the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Joseph will be the guy for more game-winners in 2023, he has hit the last seven of those, an incredible streak. His struggles came when he was up to kick extra points where he hit just 40 of 46 last season after going 36 of 40 in 2021. Regardless, his reliability on clutch kicks is an important feat and he also hit the all-time Vikings record for the longest field goal with a game-winner against the New York Giants on Christmas Eve from 61 yards out.

Running back Dykes is the seventh player in the room including fullback C.J. Ham who figures to have an increased role this year after the franchise extended his deal in the offseason. An improved running game is one of Kevin O’Connell’s points of emphasis and playing the fullback is part of that.

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) carries the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

Alexander Mattison is the new starter in place of the departed Dalvin Cook. Sophomore Ty Chandler appears to be the favorite to be the backup and change-of-pace runner. He put on a show in the first preseason contest, looking impressively dynamic.

Rookie DeWayne McBride and star returner Kene Nwangwu are the two other runners projected to have a spot on the 53-man roster but Nwangwu has been hurt for big parts of training camp. XFL star Abram Smith was signed last week and received some touches in Seattle.

Sep 3, 2022; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Richmond Spiders running back Aaron Dykes (3) carries the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers during the second half at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Dykes is a rookie out of Richmond — he went undrafted. In 42 college games, he rushed for 1,980 yards and 16 touchdowns, adding 77 catches for 750 yards and 8 more scores. He is also an experienced kick returner, a job will possibly have on Saturday against the Titans.

At the end of the day, he is a depth player and a long shot to make the team. The Vikings also worked out veterans Mike Davis and Kareem Hunt but opted to sign the unproven player without any track record in the NFL. That bodes well for Chandler who would’ve certainly lost touches if Hunt was the signing.

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