Vikings Speedster Ruled Out at Last Minute vs. GB

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The Minnesota Vikings will already be without the services of wide receiver Justin Jefferson and outside linebacker Marcus Davenport on Sunday versus the Green Bay Packers. And on Saturday evening, the club announced speedster kick returner Kene Nwangwu won’t play either.

Vikings Speedster Ruled Out at Last Minute vs. GB

The Vikings main social media account tweeted on the X app, “Kene Nwangwu (illness) has been downgraded to OUT for Minnesota vs. Green Bay.”

Speedster Ruled Out
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The absence won’t gravely affect the team’s offensive gameplan, as Nwangwu is hardly utilized as a running back. But he is the team’s kick returner, taking three touchdowns to the house in his first two seasons as a pro. In his stead, running back Ty Chandler will likely field kickoffs, although Minnesota has tended to take advantage of the new touchback rule and start drives at the 25-yardline.

Missing the Packers showdown will mark Nwangwu’s seventh absence of 2023, as he spent the first six games on injured reserve before returning against the San Francisco 49ers last week. Versus the 49ers, his first regular season appearance of the season, Nwangwu returned two kicks for 41 yards.

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When Minnesota unveiled an initial preseason depth chart in August, Nwangwu was listed as the RB2 behind Alexander Mattison, piquing fans’ interest because he could’ve been on tap for more touches in the team’s offense. We shall see if that is the plan in the season’s final nine games when Nwangwu returns.

The Vikings also traded for running back Cam Akers during Nwangwu’s absence, probably reducing any chance of Nwangwu receiving ample touches in the offense.

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The man is fast as hell, though, and Minnesota will take any eventual perks from Nwangwu it can get with a 3-4 record and IR assignment for Jefferson. Vikings faithful longed for Nwangwu’s inclusion in the team’s offense last year — because of his speed — but the wish was not granted. The Iowa State alumnus touched the ball 11 times on offense for 35 yards from scrimmage, not exactly a productive resume as a second-year speedster.

Minnesota scooped Nwangwu out of the 4th Round of the 2021 NFL Draft. His kick return touchdown on Thanksgiving night versus the New England Patriots last year was a game-saver for Minnesota. The Vikings forced no turnovers against Bill Belichick’s team, curiously couldn’t stop quarterback Mac Jones — he looked like Tom Brady for a night — leaving Nwangwu’s heroics as the hinge that swung the game.

Without Nwangwu, the Vikings are 1.5-point favorites to topple the Packers at Lambeau Field. After an advantageous turn of events in Week 7 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football, the Vikings currently sit in the No. 7 seed of the NFC’s playoff picture — which seemed impossible two or three weeks ago.

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Sunday’s game for the Vikings will be their first against the Packers without Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers somewhere attached to Green Bay’s roster in 31 years.

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).

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