One Young Viking Will Now Get More Playing Time

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

With Kirk Cousins and Cam Akers out for the season, Justin Jefferson still on injured reserve, and players like T.J. Hockenson, K.J. Osborn, and Christian Darrisaw’s Week 10 status unknown, the Minnesota Vikings are down to nubbins.

Somehow, the injury woes don’t feel deadly, probably because the purple team has won four consecutive games, no matter how fat the injury report.

One Young Viking Will Now Get More Playing Time

And with Akers out for 2023’s remainder, one young Viking is certifiably on tap for more action, per the team’s offensive coordinator Wes Phillips. He’s Ty Chandler, a draft pick from 2022, ready to assume RB2 duty.

One Young Viking Will
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

“You’ll see more Ty Chandler,” Phillips said Tuesday, not holding back regarding the club’s plans henceforth. Alexander Mattison will maintain RB1 responsibilities — for better or worse — with Chandler grabbing “the Akers role” and other tailbacks like Kene Nwangwu and DeWayne McBride available for support.

Nwangwu has been injured for most of 2023, and McBride lives on the practice squad, so it’s a wait-and-see on their workload in the coming weeks.

Tabs Unlikely
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Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said about Chandler after a preseason game in August, “I thought Ty Chandler jumped out. Just any time he had the ball in his hands, very rarely tackled by the first defender that was in space. Catching the ball. And then picked up really where he left off as far as his ability when the lights come on to sometimes turn into a different guy.”

So far in 2023, Chandler has tallied 13 touches for 85 yards, used sparingly with the Mattison-Akers combo but efficiently when called upon. The 25-year-old also has 4.38 speed, making him the Vikings second-fastest running back behind the aforementioned Nwangwu — and one of the fastest players on the roster on the whole.

Vikings Activate Rookie
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Too, Minnesota desperately needs to spark its ground game. It ranks 29th in rushing yards through nine games and only showcased a decent rushing attack last Sunday due to quarterback Josh Dobbs’ interstellar efforts. Mattison was routinely jammed at the line of scrimmage, but when Dobbs tucked and ran, the result was markedly different and a breath of fresh air.

One must wonder how long the Vikings can get away with winning games employing Dobbs or Jaren Hall at quarterback while utilizing a lousy ground attack. Probably not long.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings grabbed Chandler from the 5th Round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and because of injuries, the young halfback didn’t play much as a rookie. He saw some touches in the regular season’s final game last year, but Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison were the featured backs for most of 2022.

But now, according to the Vikings offensive coordinator, Chandler’s time has arrived, and folks should fully expect him to own the RB2 gig.


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.

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