The move of consequence came on Wednesday, September 20, when Minnesota executed a trade with the Los Angeles Rams to procure the services of running back Cam Akers. It’s reasonable to presume that the deal might taste sour on Mattison’s tongue after the Vikings extended him this offseason for two years at $7 million to assume the starting role.
However, comments from the running back and Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips on Thursday painted a relative picture of kumbaya — for whatever that’s worth.
“That’s not a bad move at all,” Mattison said, per Kevin Seifert of ESPN. “In any situation, you want to make your team better. With the opportunity to do so, we definitely welcome whatever decision they might make up top. I’m excited to have an addition to the running back room. I think he can definitely add value.”
Mattison has rushed the ball 19 times for 62 yards across the Vikings’ first two games of the season, both of which have been losses. He coughed up the football twice against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, losing one fumble while the other turnover was reversed due to a penalty.
Vikings OC Wes Phillips Still Confident in Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler
When asked during a press conference Thursday who will be the starter, both in the team’s Week-3 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers and moving forward, Phillips said head coach Kevin O’Connell will make that call. O’Connell is scheduled to speak with media members on Friday ahead of this Sunday’s pivotal home game.
“But we haven’t lost confidence in Alex Mattison. I will say that,” Phillips told reporters. “Unfortunately, we’ve had a couple turnovers in the run game where we obviously need to clean that up. Everyone’s aware of that. But we still feel very strongly in Alex and [backup RB Ty Chandler] and those guys being able to go in and produce.”
“We know we have to be better in the run game,” Phillips added. “A lot of that starts with us, and the players fundamentally. All those things we’ve addressed, and from what I saw in the first practice [this week], I think it will improve dramatically.”
Cam Akers Has Previous Relationship with Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell
Akers is coming off of a quality season in 2022, during which he gained 786 yards rushing and scored 7 touchdowns. He also caught 13 passes for 117 yards. He missed all but one game the year prior with a torn Achilles tendon.
O’Connell has a relationship with Akers stretching back to his days as the offensive coordinator in L.A., and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday that O’Connell voiced a desire to work with the running back again as the team discussed how it could improve the position group.
The head coach’s advocacy for the acquisition of Akers combined with Mattison’s early struggles appear to put Akers in a good position to win the starting job — eventually. It is unlikely Akers will be ready to jump into a starting role with just a few days of prep time, though he could be as little as one shining effort away from regaining a starting job in the NFL.