Ex-Viking Stays Put in KC, Will Face Vikings This Season

Explained: Fallout from Vikings Win over New England
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Many former Vikings will face the purple team in the upcoming season, including the recently departed stars Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks. Both Kendricks’ Chargers and Thielen’s Panthers are on the Vikings schedule.

Duke Shelley and his Raiders will also play the Vikings. Kendricks is the only one of the group whose team will come to Minnesota to play in U.S. Bank Stadium. However, someone who left the organization a few years ago will also come back and play against the purple team for the first time in his career.

Ex-Viking Stays Put in KC, Will Face Vikings This Season

Ex-Viking Stays Put, Will Face Vikings in Upcoming Season
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On Tuesday, various reporters announced Jerick McKinnon’s new deal with the Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs.

McKinnon appeared in 58 games with the Vikings after former GM Rick Spielman selected him in the third round of the 2014 draft. He got many more opportunities than expected in his rookie season because star runner Adrian Peterson was suspended. McKinnon gained 673 scrimmage yards but stayed without a touchdown. In 2015, Peterson returned and led the league in rushing. Therefore, McKinnon didn’t get many touches, and his yards dipped to 444. He still scored three times.

In 2016, Peterson again missed most of the season with a knee injury. McKinnon split running back duties with Matt Asiata behind a dreadful offensive line and recorded 794 scrimmage yards and four scores.

Despite the departure of Peterson, McKinnon was close to losing his job in 2017 to rookie Dalvin Cook and free agent addition Latavius Murray. However, Cook tore his ACL in Week 4, and McKinnon was asked to split the running back workload with Murray in his absence.

Nov 19, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon (21) carries the ball during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings relied on his receiving skills, especially in the screen game, which was a significant factor in reaching the NFC title game. McKinnon recorded a career-high 991 scrimmage yards and found the endzone five times.

The running back played for the Vikings from 2014 for four seasons until he left in free agency and signed with the 49ers. After that move, McKinnon missed two full seasons with a torn ACL and setbacks in the subsequent recovery. He had a limited role in San Francisco in 2020 before signing with the Chiefs revitalized his career.

McKinnon rarely played in the 2021 season, but in their playoff run, he had some outstanding performances with a total of more than 300 scrimmage yards in three games, securing another year with the team.

The former Viking had his big comeback tour in 2022 when he earned a featured role and split running back reps with rookie Isiah Pacheco. McKinnon played a significant role. He recorded 10 touchdowns, and 9 of them were receiving TDs. He tied a Vikings legend, Chuck Foreman, who had 9 receiving touchdowns in just 14 games in the 1975 season. The two other running backs with the same number of touchdowns in a season were Leroy Hoard (also a former Viking) in 1991 and Marshall Faulk in 2001.

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McKinnon had a total of 49 scrimmage yards in the Super Bowl win over the Philadelphia Eagles in February. His most famous play was when he went down just outside the endzone to ensure taking time off the clock, a heroic decision, instead of scoring the touchdown.

The Vikings have to improve their defensive unit after a disastrous 2022 campaign. Dalvin Tomlinson’s departure will hurt the run defense. Rookie Jaquelin Roy was the only significant run defender who has been added to the roster. Facing the Super Bowl champions and MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be a huge task for the Vikings.

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