3 Vikings Starters Who Could Hit the Bench

Purple Rumor Mill: Mattison's Role, Jefferson as OPOY, Cousins' Odd Dynamic
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The Minnesota Vikings have a 4-4 record through eight games, owning a 51.1% probability of reaching the postseason, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), even after quarterback Kirk Cousins was lost for the rest of the season.

3 Vikings Starters Who Could Hit the Bench

The Vikings will turn to Jaren Hall, at least for a game or two, this weekend as Minnesota travels to Atlanta for a date with the 4-4 Falcons.

Starters Who Could Hit
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And with the season nearing a halfway point, the roster could undergo some change with the postseason picture truly heating up.

If a few players are benched, it will be these men, ranked in order of likelihood (No. 1 = most likely to be benched).

3. Byron Murphy (CB)

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The Vikings keynote CB addition from the offseason hasn’t played terribly, but he emphatically is not the lockdown starter theorized by many Vikings fans. Murphy’s 45.0 Pro Football Focus grade ranks 106th among 115 qualifying cornerbacks. PFF is telling the world that Murphy is the league’s ninth-worst starting cornerback.


His passer-rating-against sits at 103.8 — not ideal. Minnesota’s young corners, Mekhi Blackmon and Andrew Booth, have earned playing time lately, and if Murphy’s struggles continue, Blackmon or Booth could see a starter’s role.

2. Dean Lowry (DT)

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Lowry won’t play this weekend at the Falcons because of a groin injury, perhaps allotting more playing time for rookie Jaquelin Roy and veteran Khyiris Tonga.

Lowry’s 48.7 PFF grade is underwhelming, so if Roy has a showing that is better than Lowry’s typical output, the job is there for the taking. Too, Lowry’s snap count has steadily diminished over eight games, and it feels like the Vikings might find a better option sooner than later.

The former Packer has basically been “just a guy” in Minnesota’s defense, and Roy + Tonga could seize the job somewhat seamlessly.

1. Alexander Mattison (RB)

Starters in 2023
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Mattison, as an RB1, is on pace for 828 rushing yards and zero rushing touchdowns. His 3.7 yards per carry is concerning, particularly because the Vikings have the NFL’s best run-blocking line, per PFF.

When it’s all said and done, it may be that Mattison is a fine RB2 — but no more. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah traded for Cam Akers in September, and gradually, the ex-Ram has experienced an increased workload.

Before too long, Akers could become the RB1 in title, with second-year tailback Ty Chandler getting some action, too.

Plus, with Kirk Cousins out the rest of the way, the Vikings running game will need more efficiency. It’s unlikely that Jaren Hall can sit back and sling the rock 45-50 times while the club hopes to win games. Fifth-round quarterbacks don’t usually have that moxie.

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.