Vikings Quarterback Returns to Practice

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The Minnesota Vikings entered the 2023 season with three quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins was the obvious starter, Nick Mullens was his backup, just like in the previous season, and rookie fifth-round selection Jaren Hall was planned to be the emergency depth option and potential contributor in the future. That plan was flipped upside down throughout the season.

Vikings Quarterback Returns to Practice

Vikings Quarterback Returns to Practice
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Adversity always hits, and the Vikings have responded well. Regardless of the injury reports, they haven’t complained and found ways to win on Sundays, pulling off five straight victories. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs was acquired leading up to the trade deadline and has been taking the league by storm since taking over from Hall, who landed in concussion protocol.

Hall was in the game because Cousins suffered a torn Achilles tendon and is out for the season, and backup Mullens was placed on IR with a back injury five games into the season. Suddenly, it was Dobbs’ job for three quarters against the Falcons with running back Cam Akers as his emergency backup before he also suffered a season-ending injury.

Sean Mannion was signed to the practice squad to back up Dobbs against the Saints, and Tanner Morgan was brought in from the Golden Gophers coaching staff. That’s how desperate the Vikes were. But that situation is slowly easing up. The Vikings opened Mullens’ practice window on Wednesday, the team announced, and he is now eligible to join the team on the practice field. He can be activated at any point during the next 21 days to the 53-man roster.

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Head coach Kevin O’Connell has already named Dobbs the starter for Sunday’s meeting with the Broncos. Because of the many changes at the position, there is no real hierarchy. Dobbs is the starter for now, but it is unclear who would be the next man up in case of injury or struggling performance if both Mullens and Hall were available.

Mullens’ selling point is obviously that he is an experienced veteran with playbook knowledge. He has played in 24 career games, including 17 starts, passing for over 5,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. However, he has also produced 24 interceptions, perhaps showing why he is not getting any opportunities to start somewhere.

The 28-year-old was an undrafted player out of Southern Miss and joined the 49ers in 2017. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad behind veterans Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, as well as fellow rookie C.J. Beathard.

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His big chance came in 2018 after Jimmy Garappolo tore his ACL and Beathard suffered a wrist injury. Making his first career start, Mullens lit up the Oakland Raiders, completing 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards, three touchdowns, and no interception in a primetime win.

Mullens then stayed in San Francisco for a total of four seasons before signing with the Eagles in free agency. He failed to make the roster and became the backup in Cleveland. Signing with the Raiders in 2022, he was traded to the Vikings during training camp when the franchise wasn’t happy with Kellen Mond and Mannion as Cousins’ backups.

It remains to be seen how quickly Mullens can return to game shape and if he is available as soon as Sunday.

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