Expect 3 Vikings to Get More Touches on Offense

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The Minnesota Vikings will look very different in 2024 than in the previous season. Of course, a big reason is the departures of key contributors like Danielle Hunter or Kirk Cousins and role players such as K.J. Osborn. Injuries are another aspect that will open some opportunities for backup players.

Expect 3 Vikings to Get More Touches on Offense

Minnesota’s offense is led by head coach Kevin O’Connell, who must modify some elements, most notably the rushing attack. Adjustments in the passing offense are also essential without Cousins under center. Those points (personnel changes, scheme changes, injuries) will open additional touches to the following three players.

1. Josh Oliver

Tight end Josh Oliver was signed last offseason. His arrival was surprising because the team had already employed T.J. Hockenson. He came with the praises as one of the league’s premier blocking tight ends and indeed filled that role. While the rushing attack mightily struggled, he can hardly be blamed.

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His role won’t change drastically in the upcoming campaign, at least once Hockenson returns to the field from his knee injury. Until that is the case, however, he will be targeted more often in the passing game. That element isn’t his strength, but he is capable of making plays. Last season, Oliver caught 22 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns – all career highs.

The former third-rounder has the athleticism and hands to be much more deployed without Hockenson, and the Vikings need his contributions in the middle of the field. Whenever the quarterback carousel targeted him, folks were surprised about his moving skills, considering the lack of targets.

Newly-signed Robert Tonyan (coming off an underwhelming season) and veteran Johnny Mundt (TE3 behind Oliver last year) are his snaps competition.

2. Brandon Powell

Osborn’s departure opened a massive hole in the receiving corps. The slot receiver couldn’t stay ahead of Jordan Addison in the receiver ranks, but he still eclipsed the 500 receiving yards for a third straight season.

Without him, the Vikings need to find a new WR3. The candidates are 2022 rookie Jalen Nailor, whose biggest problem is that he can’t stay healthy, journeyman Trent Sherfield, who registered over 100 yards in only one of the last five seasons, and former first-round bust N’Keal Harry, as well as a plethora of undrafted rookies from 2023 and 2024.

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The team’s punt returner, Brandon Powell, is the top candidate. He challenged Jalen Reagor for that role last training camp and won. Ultimately, he became more than just a special teamer, especially when Justin Jefferson missed time with his hamstring injury. Powell became a go-to guy for Joshua Dobbs, recording career numbers of 29 catches for 324 yards.

Unless general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah adds a prominent wideout via trade or in the leftovers of the free agency market, the WR3 vacancy is Powell’s job to lose.

3. Ty Chandler

A day-three choice in 2022, running back Ty Chandler has the requisite explosiveness to make an impact in the subpar running game. However, the Vikings have always put someone ahead of him in the pecking order. The latest is former Packers runner Aaron Jones, who will prevent Chandler from taking over the workhorse role after Alexander Mattison’s exit.

Monitor Key Offensive
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) dives for the end zone as Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) and Cincinnati Bengals safety Dax Hill (23) defend in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

After virtually redshirting his debut season, partly because of a thumb injury and because the running back room was crowded with Dalvin Cook and Mattison., Chandler slowly carved into Mattison’s reps, too slow for the fan base, who wanted him to be the top guy in the backfield earlier.

A minor injury kept Mattison out of the Week 15 contest in Cincinnati, and Chandler excelled. He finished the season with 461 yards, three scores on the ground, and 159 receiving yards.

Jones should be considered the favorite to be the RB1, but his injury history and the fact that backups always seem to get carries in O’Connell’s offense should result in a bump for Chandler’s numbers.

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