The Minnesota Vikings shook up the offensive backfield on Wednesday, designating one player to the injured reserve list (IR) and signing another to take his spot on the roster.
Running back and kick returner Kene Nwangwu will miss at least the first four weeks of the regular season with an undisclosed injury issue that has plagued the third-year player for roughly one month already. Replacing Nwangwu on the offensive depth chart, at least for now, is former Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin.
Alec Lewis of The Athletic confirmed the moves Wednesday night, August 30.
“The #Vikings officially announced that they’ve placed RB Kene Nwangwu on IR,” Lewis reported via X, formerly known as Twitter. “Minnesota also confirmed signings of RB Myles Gaskin [and] OL David Quessenberry.”
Kene Nwangwu Shaky Prospect as Vikings No. 2 Running Back
Nwangwu, one of the fastest players in the NFL and the Vikings’ primary kickoff returner, spent much of the offseason jockeying with second-year player Ty Chandler for the No. 2 spot in the RB room. Neither man has much experience in the role, though Nwangwu’s 22 career carries for 75 yards along with his six catches for 30 yards significantly outpace Chandler’s usage and production from his rookie season.
As a kick returner, Nwangwu has been electric. He has scored three touchdowns in two years on the job and led the NFL in kickoff return attempts (35) last season, per Pro Football Reference. He amassed 920 kickoff return yards in 2022.
But Nwangwu was at best a shaky running back prospect behind starter Alexander Mattison. Chandler moved into the No. 2 role by default this preseason with Nwangwu missing essentially the last month of practice. However, it always remained clear that the Vikings were in the market for another bonafide ball-carrier. Chandler rushed the football 22 times for 65 yards this preseason, producing a less-than-pedestrian average of 3.0 yards per carry.
Myles Gaskin Will Challenge Ty Chandler for Vikings’ Backup RB Job
Minnesota found the running back it was looking for in Gaskin, who is entering his fifth NFL season in 2023 after spending the entirety of his career in Miami to this point.
Gaskin has appeared in 38 regular season games and earned 17 starts over his four-year career. The RB has produced a slightly concerning 3.8 yards per carry on 361 career rushing attempts, gaining 1,355 yards on the ground and scoring seven touchdowns. He has also hauled in 101 receptions for 701 yards and scored six receiving touchdowns.
Gaskin, a seventh-round selection of the Dolphins in the 2019 draft, is slight for the position at 5’10” and 194 pounds. Still, he has proven his NFL bonafides and should make a run for the backup job behind Mattison. Miami released Gaskin as part of several cuts the team made on Tuesday when trimming its roster to 53 players.