Vikings Place Promising Receiver on Injured Reserve

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings made some headlines on Wednesday when the organization traded for running back Cam Akers to bolster the underwhelming rushing game by buying low on a talented player. He reunites with his former offensive coordinator, Kevin O’Connell. The purple team had to clear a roster spot to complete the move.

Vikings Place Promising Receiver on Injured Reserve

Vikings Place Promising Receiver on Injured Reserve
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Instead of cutting a player, the Vikings opened up one roster spot by placing wideout Jalen Nailor on IR, the team announced on Thursday. He is out for at least four games with a hamstring injury before he is eligible to return.

Nailor entered training camp with momentum after finishing his rookie campaign strong, including a three-catch game against the Green Bay Packers, resulting in 89 yards and a touchdown. He was the lone bright spot on that day.

In the limited opportunities during his debut season, Nailor racked up nine catches for 179 yards and one touchdown. One of his memorable plays was the fake punt in London when punter Ryan Wright passed the ball to Nailor to secure an extra first down.

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Many thought Nailor would be this year’s breakout star in training camp, but he missed most of it with an injury, allowing rookie Jordan Addison to pass him in the depth chart, and veteran K.J. Osborn didn’t face much competition either.

Through two games, Nailor logged only one snap on offense and 35 on special teams, seemingly not playing any role in O’Connell’s plans. The targets and snaps went to Addison, Justin Jefferson, and Osborn.

Now, a hamstring injury will sideline the playmaker. Injuries also slowed down his college career. He logged only 26 games in four seasons at Michigan State, but he still fired up 1,454 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 163 rushing yards and an extra score.

His speed and the ability to attack defenses deep earned him the nickname Speedy. That speed is why he is a valuable player for the Vikings as a special teamer. He is one of the team’s gunners, attacking punt returners and making life hard for them.

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Without Nailor, the Vikings must find a new gunner other than rookie NaJee Thompson. In addition, the team needs a new depth receiver in case someone of the starting trio suffers an injury. Punt returner Brandon Powell is the only other WR on the roster, and he has barely played on offense in his career. Elevating someone from the practice squad seems like the obvious choice for the upcoming game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Vikings currently have four wideouts on the practice squad. Former first-rounder N’Keal Harry is certainly the most notable one. Preseason star Trishton Jackson is another one. He has shown his ability to make plays in back-to-back training camps and preseason but failed to make the team. XFL star Lucky Jackson and rookie Thayer Thomas are the other two candidates.

Nailor is 24 years old and a promising player, but injuries tanked his draft status and now jeopardize his potential breakout season. Staying healthy will be critical for him going forward.

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