The Vikings Have 24 Hours to Make Critical Decision on Rookie RB

The Vikings Have 24 Hours to Make Critical Decision Regarding Rookie RB
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

In Week 5 against the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings rookie RB broke his thumb, and the injury landed him on IR. He spent nearly two months on injured reserve, but prior to Week 14, he was designated to return to practice alongside CB Cam Dantzler. Now, the Vikings have 24 hours to make a critical decision on their rookie RB.

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Minnesota has two choices for their rookie RB. On Wednesday, they can either put him back on season-ending IR, or they can activate him back to the 53-man roster. If they opt to put him back on IR, that would end their 2022 fifth-round pick’s rookie season after having appeared in just two games and played just 28 special teams snaps. On the other hand, by activating him, they’d find themselves with a four-RB roster behind Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Kene Nwangwu.

Prior to being a Viking, Chandler had a very successful four-year collegiate career at Tennessee, but he transferred to North Carolina prior to the 2021 season. At North Carolina, he replaced the two-headed Tar Heel monster of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, who both entered the NFL following the 2020 season.

At UNC, Chandler burst onto the scene as a workhorse back, rushing 182 times for 1092 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and 13 TDs over the course of 13 games. He also caught 15 passes for 216 receiving yards and another touchdown. Following that successful fifth season, he was selected by the Vikings in the 2022 NFL Draft with the 169th overall pick.

Dec 30, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back Ty Chandler (19) looks for room to run eyed by South Carolina Gamecocks linebacker Damani Staley (30) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Chandler made some noise in the preseason for Minnesota, rushing 15 times for 113 yards and a touchdown. The average of 7.53 yards per carry showcased Chandler’s incredible burst and acceleration, and there were plenty of big plays. Four of the rookie’s 15 rushes went for over 10 yards, including a 25-yard scamper.

Because of how quickly Chandler seemed to be catching on with the Vikings, there were even some rumblings that he could replace Mattison as the RB2 in Minnesota this year. Mattison was set to hit free agency following the 2022 season, and the Vikings could potentially sell high on their backup RB in a trade before he tried to become a starter somewhere else in 2023.

Obviously, that never happened, and Chandler ended up buried on the depth chart to begin the season, with all of his snaps limited to special teams. If he comes back to the 53-man roster this time around, he likely sees the same fate.

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

Dalvin Cook has been his usual productive self, plus the added caveat that he’s been healthier this year than he’s ever been. Last week, he appeared in a 15th game for the first time in his NFL career. Behind him, Mattison has filled in well with 56 rushes for 191 yards and 3 TDs. Still, the Vikings clearly envisioned a role for Chandler when they not only drafted him but kept him around on the final roster. Perhaps this time around his role would be expanded after more practice time with the team.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.